Downed trees become habitat for eastern red-backed salamanders

Today’s post comes from Laura Sagermann, a Natural Heritage Education leader from Bon Echo Provincial Park.

Across Ontario, our provincial parks protect a wide range of diverse ecosystems and habitats from human impact, urban development and other environmental threats.

However, this protected land is not immune to invasive species. These are non-native species that have been introduced (either purposely or accidentally) and have negative effects on a region.

At Bon Echo, the latest invasive species to be found is the insect-fungus combination responsible for beech bark disease.  Continue reading Downed trees become habitat for eastern red-backed salamanders

Year of the salamander

The next time you take your kids or grandkids for a trek through your favourite Ontario provincial park, stay on the lookout for salamanders.  Some of these wondrous little amphibians are on the endangered species list so if you see one skulking through your park, snap a selfie and send it to Ontario Nature, or download a free app at Your scientific discovery could help scientists understand more about why these fascinating creatures are disappearing.

According to a study done by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, amphibians such as salamanders, frogs and toads are experiencing one of the biggest declines globally. In fact, 41 percent of amphibians worldwide are endangered or threatened, including here in Ontario.

Continue reading Year of the salamander

The Year of the Salamander and Natural Heritage Education

 In an age when kids are so plugged in to technology, Mother Nature can be the de-stressor a child needs to lead a healthy life. 

 Natural Heritage Education (NHE) programs at Ontario Parks teach kids to appreciate and respect nature. The hands-on, entertaining activities offered every summer are free with a valid day or overnight Ontario Parks permit. Best of all, they’re led by qualified staff who understands the area’s ecology.  Use the Park Locator on the Ontario Parks web site to locate parks with NHE programming.  

Spotted Salamander in Algonquin Provincial Park.

David Legros is the NHE leader at Algonquin Provincial Park. Beginning as a Laurentian University MSc graduate, David has been involved with the Bat Lake Inventory of Spotted Salamanders (BLISS) in Algonquin Provincial Park. This project is slated to become the largest salamander monitoring project in North America. It operates on a shoestring budget and is coordinated by Patrick Moldowan, an MSc Biology Candidate at Laurentian University. *  Glenn Tattersall, a Professor at Brock University, officially began the BLISS project in 2008 and has been instrumental in supporting students throughout the salamander study.

 Salamanders are great predictors of a forest’s health. Many are threatened worldwide so conservationists have named 2014 the Year of the Salamander. Spring is when salamanders migrate in Algonquin Provincial Park. This wonderful story from the point-of-view of a male salamander takes place during spring migration and breeding. It was written by Patrick Moldowan and inspired by NHE leader, David LeGros (who is not an amourous salamander). 

  Continue reading The Year of the Salamander and Natural Heritage Education