Ecotone: Collaborations With the Anonymous

Spotted On the Road

The Yellow-spotted salamander is known for annual intrepid journeys in very early spring, when they clamber enthusiastically over ground still covered in snow from their winter hibernation burrows in rotted logs  to the just-thawed vernal pools where they will mate. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of these robust, glossy creatures troop during the night toward the pools, undaunted by the challenge of crossing lawns and roads to reach their goal. I live near a town that has built tunnels under the roads where these salamanders are known to cross, and during these yearly night migrations dozens of volunteers stand in the rain with flashlights and brooms, steering salamanders toward the tunnels and trying to protect them from passing cars.