A peeper in a lily. (photo © James Newsom)


Hop on in.

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.

A Salamander Crossing Brigadier smiles while holding a spotted salamander. (photo © Cheryl Martin)

Salamander Crossing Brigades

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.

Join the Brigades
People peer into a vernal pool during a volunteer training. (photo © Brett Amy Thelen)

Vernal Pool Project

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.

Search for vernal pools
A red-backed salamander peers into the depths of your soul. (photo © Dave Huth)


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.

Survey for salamanders

Contact Us

For more information on our amphibian research projects, please contact Science Director Brett Amy Thelen at (603) 525-3394 or by email.