College of the Atlantic professor Dr. Steve Ressel will speak about about salamander adaptation in the intertidal zone Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 4:10 p.m. in the college's McCormick Lecture Hall. PHOTO COURTESY OF COA

Amphibians in Salt Water?

BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic herpetology and biology professor Dr. Steve Ressel joins the COA Human Ecology Forum for a presentation about salamander adaptation in the intertidal zone on Tuesday, Nov. 6. The free event starts at 4:10 p.m. in McCormick Lecture Hall.

Spotted salamanders are large, boldly colored amphibians that breed in the early spring, often when snow and ice are still clinging to the recently thawed ground. These salamanders are thought to rely on woodland vernal pools as the preferred breeding habitat on the island and throughout their range.

In Acadia National Park, however, a population of spotted salamanders breed in coastal pools within close proximity to the ocean, which exposes them to salinity levels that can approach that of undiluted seawater. Intrigued by the particulars of this population, Ressel has been studying their physiology and ecology for the past three years, and will present his findings to date in this talk.

Ressel joined the faculty at College of the Atlantic in 1993 and teaches courses in the areas of vertebrate biology, physiological ecology, herpetology, winter ecology, and biological photography. He also served as director of the college’s natural history museum until 2005.

Ressel received his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Vermont and University of Connecticut, respectively. His graduate work focused on mate choice and sexual selection in the western fence lizard, diet selection in an herbivorous lizard, and the behavioral energetics of temperate vs. tropical frogs. He has conducted fieldwork in California, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean. Since coming to COA, Ressel has been involved with vernal pool surveys for the Town of Bar Harbor and woodland salamander surveys in Acadia National Park.


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