forests

Salamanders and Climate Change

I think it’s safe to say we all got a good chuckle when researchers reported that flatulent cattle were a problem in terms of climate change.

The image of gassy cows stuck in everybody’s mind, even though the smelly number is real (the livestock industry emits about 14.5% of human-associated greenhouse gases).

But now it’s time to turn our climate change spotlight from large cows to tiny salamanders. That’s because it turns out that salamanders also play a role in the global carbon cycle — but in a good way.

Nutty Nuggets

Before I say anything about the importance of acorns in the forest, it’s important to start with the fact that the world’s biggest acorn is in Moore Square Park in downtown Raleigh. It’s fitting to find it there. After all, Raleigh calls itself “The City of Oaks.” And if it were real, there's no doubt this nut would produce a giant oak. The big nut is 10 feet tall and weighs about 1,250 lbs.

Acorns Count

The acorn is not only a symbol of fall, but the nuts are a baseline indicator of the current and future health of the forest ecosystem. U.S. Forest Service researchers studying acorns find a bounty of acorns indicates healthy trees and a plentiful food supply for the creatures that form the base of the forest food chain.