With the snow pack saturated on Ashokan Watershed mountainsides, we may be primed for a snowmelt event that fills small woodland pools and channels. Small woodland pools are prime habitat for amphibian breeding. In early spring, after the ground has started to thaw, species like spotted salamander and wood frog emerge from underground winter shelters in the forest and walk overland to breeding pools. According to the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program, in our region, this migration occurs on rainy nights when the night air temperature is above 40F. When these conditions align just so, there can be explosive (“big night”) migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move. Currently, the Saturday forecast includes rain during the day and into the evening, with temperatures staying above 40F after nightfall.
Drivers are encouraged to proceed with caution or avoid travel on the first warm, rainy evenings of the season. Amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads. You can help by telling the NYSDEC when and where you see migrations of woodland pool amphibians. To learn more, visit DEC’s Amphibian Migration and Road Crossings webpage, which includes safety information for volunteers and an amphibian identification guide.