This summer, Trent University's Gzowski Way will be the centre of a unique construction project aiming to facilitate the migratory movements of local salamanders. New road curbs will be installed, reducing the barrier the salamanders face reaching the nearby wetland.
Each spring, various amphibian species on campus, including the Blue-spotted salamander and unisexual Ambystoma, cross Gzowski Way on the east bank of Trent University's Symons Campus, to reach their breeding habitat in the adjacent Archaeology Complex Wetland Nature Area.
New sloped curb supports salamander movement
A redesign and replacement of the existing curb with a sloped or mountable one was proposed to help the salamanders cross safely. The new curb, inclined at a 45-degree angle, will enable salamanders to climb with ease and proceed to their wetland breeding site, while maintaining the curb's original purpose of controlling runoff from stormwater and snowmelt. Funding for the project has been provided by an anonymous benefactor.
This initiative was sparked by the findings of Dr. Thomas Hossie (Catharine Parr Traill College), now assistant professor in Biology at Trent and an expert in terrestrial ecology, in collaboration with representatives from the Trent Herpetological Society and the Society for Ecological Restoration. The redesign aims to alleviate risk for salamanders crossing to Archaeology Complex Wetland Nature Area.
The project is part of the University's goal of supporting campus-wide biodiversity and ecosystem health, as outlined in the Trent Lands and Nature Area Plan. Currently, 11 species of amphibians live in the Nature Areas and green spaces that make up the University Green Network. The undertaking is a cost-effective solution relative to other mitigation strategies such as underpasses or overpasses, which might not entirely solve the issue due to the animals' aversion to such structures and could complicate stormwater management. Mountable curbs have proven effective elsewhere, notably assisting snapping turtles in Ottawa.
The project, spearheaded by Facilities Management in conjunction with Cooks Concrete, anticipates minor traffic disruptions along Gzowksi Way, lasting until approximately August 2 or 3.