Herps: the heart of the ecosystem

Sarah Clarke is a recent graduate of UVM’s Rubenstein School, and is a true lover of herps.

She writes, “I decided to paint this because I love herps, not to be cheesy or anything. I also think these lower trophic levels play a huge role and are the heart of ecosystems, yet many people don’t even realize it. Eastern red-backed salamanders can have greater biomasses than birds, wood frogs can freeze themselves solid, and spotted salamander embryos can have symbiotic relationships with algae. These really are fascinating creatures! “

“This is an acrylic painting of an anatomical heart that is painted as a cross section of a tree trunk. On the extended branches there are frog eggs, spotted salamander eggs (characterized by the green tint of algae), and a wood frog. The frog eggs do not have an outer gel layer like the salamander eggs. There is also a spotted salamander, ring-necked snake, and eastern red-backed salamander. Coming out of the top are real, pressed flowers. The edges are bordered by scientific names of amphibian and reptile species in Vermont.”