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Young salamanders' movement over land helps stabilize populations
Date:3/30/2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Amphibiansfrogs, toads, salamanders, and newtsare disappearing worldwide, but the stream salamanders of the Appalachian Mountains appear to be stable. This region is home to the largest diversity of salamanders in the world (more than 70 species reside here), and scientists want to understand what contributes to the stability of these salamander populations.

In research published in the March 29, 2010 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Evan Grant , a research associate in the University of Maryland Department of Biology and wildlife biologist with the US Geological Survey's Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative; along with William Fagan, a professor in the University of Maryland department of biology; and collaborators James Nichols, US Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; and Winsor Lowe, University of Montana; describe how two species of stream salamanders find new homes by moving both within streams and over land to adjacent streams during multiple life stages, and how this movement may help to stabilize their populations.

"Scientists tend to be more focused on populations that are declining or threatened," explains Grant, "but it is also important to look at the populations that are doing well, and to understand what makes the population or species more stable. You can apply this to interpret what might be happening with populations that are declining."

The Fagan lab is known for its expertise in combining math and biology to understand the spatial distribution of species to solve real-world conservation problems. They create mathematical models to understand patterns, influences and changes in spatial distribution.

Grant, who is a wildlife biologist with the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and completed this work as part of his dissertation research, used observations of marked animals to estimate the dispersal probabilities of two species
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Contact: Kelly Blake
kellyb@umd.edu
301-405-8203
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert  

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