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Amphibian Activity in Relation to Temperature Change

Temperature is related to amphibian activity, in terms of both emergence and timing of metamorphosis. The purpose of this study was to see at what temperatures amphibian activity would begin at two different sites in Massachusetts: Southwick, located in Western Massachusetts, and Uxbridge, located in Central Massachusetts. Hobo temperature loggers were set at each site to record water temperature of the vernal pools as well as air temperature. Camera traps were used at Uxbridge and pitfall traps at Southwick to document amphibian activity. The hypothesis was that there would be amphibian activity earlier in Western Massachusetts than Central Massachusetts due to its slightly warmer average spring temperatures. The pitfall traps and camera traps did not capture any amphibians, however visual observations at both sites showed that the amphibians may have emerged on the same weekend. At both locations wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) were seen, while American toads (Anaxyrus americanus) and spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) were only seen at Southwick. Observations showed that the Uxbridge site had a higher abundance of wood frogs while the Southwick site had higher abundance of American toads. Spring peepers in most instances were heard, not seen. We suggest that the intensity of the winter snow and ice coverage this year could have had an effect on initial amphibian activity compared to other years.