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Amphibian Research with the Harris Center
Amphibians — particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors due to their thin skin and complex life cycles — serve as biological indicators of the health of our ecosystems. When we focus our attention on these small creatures, we open our eyes to the health of the wider environment.
On the first warm rainy nights of spring, thousands of amphibians migrate from woods to wetlands in a natural phenomenon known as “Big Night.” It’s a perilous journey, especially when they must cross busy roads to reach their breeding pools. To reduce the risk of roadkill, the Harris Center trains community scientists to serve on Salamander Crossing Brigades at amphibian road crossings throughout the Monadnock Region.
Vernal pools are temporary woodland ponds that serve as important amphibian breeding habitat. Because they’re small and seasonal, they’re especially vulnerable to development. We can protect these sensitive ecosystems, but only if we know where they are! Our Vernal Pool Project volunteers find and record data on vernal pools, with special focus on public and conserved lands.
The Harris Center maintains six study plots as part of SPARCnet, a regional research effort aimed at understanding the effects of climate change on woodland salamanders. With the help of students and community scientists, we survey the plots for salamanders each spring and fall.
For more information on our amphibian research projects, please contact Science Director Brett Amy Thelen at (603) 525-3394 or by email.