Quest for the Blue-Spotted Salamander


A few hours in knee-deep water was a small price to pay for Indiana University South Bend environmental physiologist Jim McLister’s reptile and amphibian team, just back from a wade on the Miller Woods trail. “I warned them ahead of time: There’s a lot of water where we going, and if we find even a few species we’ll be doing well.


The team recoiled briefly when they saw their trail submerged. “After the first few minutes in the water, though,” says McLister, “it was no big deal. And once we made our first find—a little tree frog tadpole—there was excitement, enthusiasm, a payoff! For this work, having as many eyes as possible helps, too. Everyone was on the lookout.”

Other expedition finds included a dead garter snake and a live blue-spotted salamander.

“I love herpetology,” says McLister, “because there are so many interesting creatures to find right in your own back yard. If you’d told my team yesterday that they’d go two-and-a-half hours and find five species, they wouldn’t have believed it, but they loved every minute. It was an adventure!”

Photographs by Jim McLister