Species Dive 11: The quintessential Southern Toad

The Southern Toad (Anaxyrus terrestris) is a medium-sized frog species found throughout the southeastern United States, including parts of southern Mississippi. These toads are an important part of the local ecosystem, serving as both predator and prey in various food webs. The southern toad is a terrestrial species, meaning that it spends most of its … Read more

Species Dive 10: Fastest snake in the west

The Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) is a species of nonvenomous snake found throughout the southeastern United States. In Mississippi, they are found in the Longleaf Pine forests of the south, and are apparently patchy in distribution today. These snakes are known for their long, slender bodies and lightning speeds. In Mississippi, they tend to have dark-brown … Read more

Species Dive 8: The Ornate Chorus Frog rediscovery in Mississippi

On a global scale, human pressures threaten the survival of amphibian species at small and large scales. Frogs in particular have suffered great declines in the tropics. Declines are not quite as prevalent for North American species in the biodiverse coastal plain, but more and more biologists are noticing blips in populations once readily accessible. … Read more

Species Dive 7: A bog, some moss, and four toes

The Four-toed Salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) lives an enigmatic and secretive life among North Americas bogs and vernal pools. Four-toed salamanders are small, tend to be coppery or grayish in color, have a notable constriction at the base of the tail, and sport bright white bellies with black spots. And of course, they have four toes … Read more

Species Dive 6 – Legless Lizards of Mississippi

While they may appear to be snakes, Glass Lizards (Genus Ophisaurus) are actually an entirely different group. They are unique from snakes in having eyelids, ear canals, an inflexible lower jaw, and distinct lateral skin folds. Snakes have scaled eyes, no ear canal, and a flexible jaw for consuming larger prey items. Mississippi specifically has … Read more

Species Dive 5 – Desmognathus conanti: A common salamander of complicated classification

Desmognathus conanti, commonly referred to as the Spotted Dusky Salamander, is currently known to be a wide-ranging, stream-dwelling dusky salamander. In previous decades, this salamander underwent a few taxonomic revisions. Since then, some researchers have been using modern techniques to gradually build evidence that this species could be more than we thought. The Spotted Dusky … Read more

Species Dive 4 – Aneides aeneus: The green, cryptic climber of the Eastern U.S.

The Green Salamander may be one of the more interesting and intriguing amphibians of the eastern United States. Their pattern and coloration boldly contrast that of any other salamander native to their rocky plateau range. They spend most of their lives high above the ground. And their climbing ability is impressive. The Green Salamander is … Read more

Species Dive 3 – Graptemys gibbonsi: A particularly pretty Pascagoula River turtle

If you don’t pay close attention when passing portions of the Pascagoula River drainage, you may not realize that these turtles are often basking and floating just below. The Pascagoula Map Turtle may be one such turtle, found in flowing water in southeastern Mississippi. They live in rivers and larger streams that are part of … Read more

Species Dive 2 – Desmognathus pascagoula: Muddy wetland endemic

For the first species in the spotlight for 2023, I decided to talk about one of the newest additions to biodiversity we know of in Mississippi. Desmognathus pascagoula, the Pascagoula Dusky Salamander, is the newest amphibian (described in 2022 by Pryon et al.) we know to inhabit Mississippi. This salamander was formerly a known as … Read more