The data collected from the salamander monitoring traps helps our restoration crew know if the pond is a healthy ecosystem that is supporting a healthy population of these and other animals.
Graphing and Thinking About the Data (Added 3/27/2020)
Next go and view our data. We have two ways to view the daily population count. For younger students we have the number of salamanders counted each day. For older students we have the daily data broken down by male and female salamanders:
Activity 1: Take our data and create a graph of the daily population found at our monitoring location. Get creative with your graph, post it and tag us on Facebook so we can see your creation.
Activity 2: Think about what might be causing more salamanders to emerge on some days than others. Here it might be good to discuss hibernation as a means of survival in the winter. Go to the weather data for Chicago O’Hare Airport and explore the calendar and history tabs. Look up the historic temperature for the month and see if there may be an explanation for which days have higher emergence and which have lower.
Activity 3: Encourage students to do some research on how other animals survive during the winter months when temperatures are cold and food is scarce. Not all animals hibernate. What are some of the other survival strategies?
Salamanders and Habitats (Added 4/7/2020)
Every plant and animal has a type of place where it lives and this place is known as a habitat. Some habitats are warm and others are cold, some are dry while others get a lot of rain. Plants and animals that live in a particular habitat are able to find the food, shelter, and other resources they need to survive. Some species are able to live in many habitats while others are only adapted to a single type of environment. Let’s look at our salamanders a little more closely and learn about the habitats they prefer and how they find what they need to survive.
Activity 1: If you haven’t already, watch our facebook videos about our salamander monitoring at Hickory Knolls from 2019 and 2020. Look and listen and describe the habitat where these salamanders live. What types of plants and animals also live there? What is said about the salamander life cycle about how they use the resources there? How do they use the land, the pond and other resources?
Activity 2: Watch the read aloud of the book The Salamander Room. Discuss the things that were part of the salamander’s natural habitat that were not found in the boy’s bedroom. Discuss how being removed from their habitat or having a habitat changed could affect an animal’s survival.
Activity 3: Print out or look through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ book Slime, Scales & Mudpuppy Tails. Learn about the physical characteristics and life cycle of salamanders and other Illinois wildlife. How do these various animals use their habitats to find what they need to survive. How are they the same and different from one another?
Activity 4: Look up some information on habitats near your home. You can find descriptions of nearby parks. If you live near St. Charles, Illinois you can look up information on the natural areas that are part of the St. Charles Park District. What types of habitats are described? What plants and animals do you suppose would live in those areas? Take a hike in some of these areas to see what ac