Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drought, climate change impact salamander survival rates

Date:
October 10, 2012
Source:
Wake Forest University
Summary:
On the heels of one the worst U.S. droughts in more than half a century, a new study raises questions about the future of one of the most integral members of stream ecosystems throughout the Southeast – the salamander. Research from Wake Forest University shows how salamanders react to drought, shedding light on the impact of climate change and increased urbanization.

Northern Dusky Salamander in North Carolina.
Credit: Kristen Cecala

On the heels of one the worst U.S. droughts in more than half a century, a new study raises questions about the future of one of the most integral members of stream ecosystems throughout the Southeast -- the salamander.

Biologists at Wake Forest University and Davidson College conducted five years of research that shows how salamanders and other aquatic animals react to drought, shedding light on the impact of climate change and urbanization on salamander populations. Their findings appear in the scientific journal Herpetologica.

Unfortunately, the heat is on for the amiable amphibian.

Researchers studied the Northern Dusky Salamander at 17 sites in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C., area from 2005 to 2009, which included 12 months of exceptional drought conditions (Sept. 2007 to Sept. 2008).

While adult salamanders had 90 percent survival rates from one month to the next, their larvae, which must be submerged in water for development and metamorphosis, disappeared from an average 30 percent of sites during the drought year. When water levels in the areas observed reached a 110-year low, adult salamanders migrated from streambeds to underground or high-humidity refuges at twice the rate seen during non-drought conditions.

"With climate change models predicting that droughts will become longer in duration and more severe, having knowledge of animals' response strategies to extremely dry conditions is critical to their future survival," said Steven Price, who was a Wake Forest graduate student at the time of the study and now is an assistant professor of stream and riparian ecology at the University of Kentucky.

"During the drought, adult salamanders demonstrated a 90 percent survival rate from one month to the next. It sounds pretty high, but at this rate, less than one percent would survive a four-year drought suggested under certain climate change scenarios," Price warned.

Salamanders play an important role in maintaining balance in forest ecosystems. They feast on stream invertebrates that help regulate the nutrients derived from leaf litter in waterways. As prey for birds and mammals, their place in the food chain remains an important one.

Robert Browne, the Wake Forest biology professor who oversaw the research, said solutions such as wider riparian zones -- the biologically distinctive land that borders waterways such as rivers, creeks and streams -- could help protect salamander species long-term.

"The Charlotte metro area expanded like crazy during the time of our research, and development, like drought, has a major impact on the fragmentation of habitats," said Browne. "Protecting and widening the riparian buffer zones would not only provide them shelter during dry conditions, it would also prevent erosion and absorb silt, which negatively impacts the survival of stream-dwelling animals."

Thus, drought may interact with local land-uses resulting in a particularly bleak outlook for salamanders and other semi-aquatic organisms.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Steven J. Price, Robert A. Browne, and Michael E. Dorcas. Resistance and Resilience of A Stream Salamander To Supraseasonal Drought. Herpetologica, September 2012; 68 (3): 312-323 DOI: 10.1655/HERPETOLOGICA-D-11-00084.1

Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University. "Drought, climate change impact salamander survival rates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010083935.htm>.
Wake Forest University. (2012, October 10). Drought, climate change impact salamander survival rates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010083935.htm
Wake Forest University. "Drought, climate change impact salamander survival rates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121010083935.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Salamanders Display Survival Techniques in Period of Extreme Drought

Sep. 5, 2012 The stress of drought is acutely felt by aquatic animals such as salamanders. The extreme drought in the southeastern United States in 2007–2008 provided an opportunity to study how salamanders ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins