In the fall of 1997, Mindy Thompson (one of my first graduate students) and I constructed a drift fence around a pond in Bath Township known as Windhover Pond. The drift fence completely encircles the pond allowing us to capture all of the amphibians that come and go from the pond during the breeding season (if you are interested in the annual salamander walks we do at this site, see the link on the right sidebar). Since the spring of 1998 we have marked, measured, and released all the spotted salamanders that use Windhover to breed (~ 10,000 animals marked to date). The simple capture, counting and measuring of individuals allows us to estimate vital demographic parameters (like survival, growth and reproduction) that can tell us about the health of the population and how it varies in size over time. The demographic data will be compiled and published as a monograph at year 20, but there have also been some findings along the way (one master’s thesis unpublished, and one underway that we anticipate publishing in 2012). Also, Jen Purrenhage published her thesis on landscape genetics of spotted salamanders, including the Windhover Pond population, in Molecular Ecology (link below). I currently have two graduate students working on spotted salamanders (Scott Thomas and Joseph Loucek). More on their work soon.
A graduate student I co-advised with my colleague Paco Moore, Erin Petruzzi, was interested in the variation in stripe color in redback salamanders, especially as it might relate to habitat segregation based on biophysical parameters. She published her work in Frontiers in Zoology (link below).