A Winter/Spring Study of Salamanders in a Disturbed, Fragmented Habitat Surrounded by Farm Land

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Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science, Vol: 107, Issue: 3, Page: 175-181

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Ball, James C.
salamanders; fragmentation; migration; Anthropology; Life Sciences; Physical Sciences and Mathematics; Science and Mathematics Education
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The continued development of fragmented habitats contributes to the decline of amphibians species, and there needs to be a method for evaluating the potential of these habitats to sustain amphibian populations. The effect of fragmented and disturbed habitats among salamander species is difficult to assess because these caudates are difficult to find and enumerate. One approach for estimating the total population of salamanders is to sample them when they migrate to their winter/spring breeding ponds. One fragmented habitat in Southern Michigan was sampled for breeding salamanders during the winter/spring of 1997. Four species of salamanders were detected at this site; blue-spotted salamanders (Ambystoma laterale complex), eastern newts (Notophthalmus viridescem), spotted salamanders (A. maculatum), and tiger salamanders (A. tigrinum). Blue-spotted salamanders were the most common salamander caught (797 breeding adults) followed by the eastern newt (111 adults), spotted salamanders (54 adults), and tiger salamanders (two adults). Based on mark recapture methods, the total population of blue-spotted salamanders at this site was estimated to be about 3100 (95% C.I. 2800- 3800). Two of the four species of salamanders detected at this site seem to be thriving, blue-spotted salamanders and eastern newts. Spotted salamanders are vulnerable to natural events that could cause the extirpation of this species from this site. Tiger salamanders, while detected in these woods, are too few to represent a sustainable population.