Sunday, September 23, 2012

Improving the Pond for Amphibian Breeding

A collection of Red-osier Dogwood, Black Willow and Green Ash grows on the bank and in the shallow water of the pond.  The water disappeared a few months ago, so it’s difficult to realize that the mowed grass in the foreground covers the pond bottom.  By early winter, the water will be restored and the pond will be ready for another year of amphibian breeding.

The low growing branches falling out towards the center of the pond have caused a problem for several years.  Frogs and salamanders breeding immediately following a heavy rain lay their eggs on branches that are only temporarily inundated.  When the water falls back to its typical level, the eggs are left hanging in the air.

Fallen dogwood branches that touch the pond bottom develop roots and sprout more branches.  As a result, the dogwoods have extended their reach far out into the pond.  I used to snip off branches carrying egg clusters to keep the eggs from drying in the air.  The dogwoods are so thick that it is now difficult to see the egg clusters and even more difficult to reach them with pruners.

I decided that it was time to trim back the growth, so the egg laying amphibians would be denied a choice of unsuitable egg laying sites.  Finding a good place to begin cutting was a bit of a challenge.  Finally, I just took the big pruners and cut my way into the center of the stand.  From there things got much easier.

Besides trimming the dogwoods, I took out all of the Green Ash.  The Rural Electric lines run right across the center of the pond and ash trees would soon pose a threat to those lines.

That clump on the end is the last bit needing cut.  Its reach into the pond is typical of what the entire strip was like before I began cutting.

When the trimming was completed, I took JR around to cut off any sprouts I might have missed.  This should make it much easier to monitor egg laying activities.

Here’s the cut material all separated into piles and ready to be drug to the brush pile.  I made 12 trips to the brush pile at approximately 340 feet per trip.  That’s like dragging one pile of brush for three-fourths of a mile.  That’s just one of those things I think about as I work.

Now it’s ready for salamander breeding season.  I hope this results in fewer eggs being lost to fluctuating water levels.  Now all we need is the water.


  1. The salamanders are smiling, but then, they always do.

  2. Hi James. There's nothing like a salamander smile to brighten a person's day.