Don’t tell my Penn State colleagues, but this job was through the Ohio State University. I worked at Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest, located in the foothills of the Appalachians. The project was led by two graduate students, Mike Graziano and Lauren Blyth. Mike’s research focused on wetland breeding amphibians, and Lauren’s research focused on the salamander community. At the experimental forest, we surveyed forest tracts that were routinely burned, thinned, burned and thinned, and un-managed.
The goal was to determine how such forestry practices influenced the species composition of the salamander community.
I worked alongside David Alsbach (the original TEAM POWER) to check aquatic funnel traps and drift fences with pitfall traps. This job prepared me well for the salamander work I would later do in David Miller’s lab at Penn State: freezing my fingers off handling hundreds of spotted and Jefferson’s salamanders during the early spring, and measuring and handling hundreds of terrestrial salamanders as part of SPARCnet. One of the coolest aspects of this position was getting to see how the forest changed from winter to summer. Hiking the same, several-mile route each day, we got to see dozens of wildflower species as they bloomed.