Celebrating International Day of Biologic Diversity

Brian Breissinger By: Brian Breissinger

The United Nations has named May 22, 2018 the International Day for Biological Diversity. Biodiversity describes the variety of both animal and plant life found in an ecosystem or habitat. Being Environmental Technicians, we spend a lot of time interacting with the various wildlife that we come across during our time in the field. It’s also our job to understand the purpose of these organisms and the role that they play in their surrounding habitat. Here’s a few of the creatures we see on a regular basis and their role in the local ecosystem:

The Woodland Box Turtle:

The Woodland Box turtle is one of the most commonly found reptiles in Virginia. They are often found within wooded areas and swamps and split their time between land and water. These turtles are omnivores, consuming a diet rich with wild berries, mushrooms, small bugs, and salamanders.  Box turtles have notoriously long lives, often living as long or longer than humans!

Frogs and Toads:

Did you know that Virginia has 28 species of frogs and toads? They are very important to our ecosystems because they help indicate environmental health and water quality. If there are large numbers of frogs and toads present in a habitat, that indicates that the ecosystem is healthy. They also consume insects, making them excellent for pest control.

Smooth Greensnake:

The Smooth Greensnake is a nonvenomous snake that often measures between 11-20 inches. Named for its light green/yellowish color, they primarily live in open, grassy fields and prey on a wide variety of bugs, spiders, snails, and butterflies.


Salamanders are small, bug eating, amphibians that live in areas of mixed forest, often close to ponds and slow steams. They lay their eggs in masses of up to 200 (like those photographed above) near bodies of water. Most of the year adult salamanders live underground, only appearing above ground in the early spring for breeding. Salamanders are also capable of regenerating lost limbs!

To learn more about International Day for Biologic Diversity, click here: http://www.un.org/en/events/biodiversityday/