Slide show - 14 Lakes

  • A series of six small ponds, called 14 Lakes, provides important habitat for pond-breeding amphibians in the Cedar River Municipal Watershed.
  • Species commonly found at the ponds include Northwestern salamanders (shown here), red-legged frogs, roughskin newts, Pacific tree frogs, and long-toed salamanders.
  • Each spring adult frogs and salamanders (Pacific tree frog in photo) return from nearby forests to the ponds to breed.
  • Field visits in 2004 showed that there was a wide band of open habitat between the forest and the pond. Biologists began planning habitat enhancement to better link these areas for amphibians migrating to and from the pond.
  • Select trees at the forest edge were directionally felled (during low water levels in the fall) to create a safe travel corridor between the pond and the forest.
  • Fellers placed the trees in direct contact with the ground so they would provide cover from hot sun and predators for amphibians moving along the corridor.
  • The tops and branches of all trees were left in the pond to provide attachment sites for amphibian egg masses.
  • Trees were selected that would reach from the forest edge into the pond when water levels rose in spring and summer.
  • In some locations clusters of trees were dropped, to create a wider corridor and provide greater cover for the migrating amphibians.
  • We created photo point locations (green dots) where we return annually to document visual changes in habitat quality in ponds.
  • When water levels rose in the spring, the tops of trees that we dropped from the forest edge were in the water.
  • In some cases, the tops of trees were cut off to allow the greatest length of trunk to contact the ground. These tops often floated, but were still useful to breeding amphibians as egg mass attachment sites.
  • Red-legged frogs and Northwestern salamanders immediately began attaching egg masses to the branches of trees dropped in the ponds. Each rounded cluster is a separate egg mass – there are over 20 egg masses in this picture.
  • The percentage of eggs attached to the dropped trees was monitored for five years post-treatment. In one pond we found very little use the first year (2006). However, 27% (2008 & 2009) to 44% (2010) of red-legged frog egg masses were attached to the newly dropped trees in subsequent years.
  • At another pond, in 2008 a record 84% of red-legged frog egg masses were attached to the newly dropped tree branches.
  • Habitat enhancement at 14 Lakes was successful in creating egg attachment sites for amphibians and in providing corridors of wood between the forest and ponds. The five animals in this photo (two red-legged frogs, two long-toed salamanders, and one northwestern salamander) were found under a single piece of wood, showing the importance of coarse woody debris to all of these species.