Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Northeast Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative

Stream  samplingStream sampling

Stream  samplingStream sampling

Vernal pool sampling at Patuxent Wildlife Research CenterVernal pool sampling at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

<em>Desmognathus</em> nesting siteDesmognathus nesting site

Hyla versicolorHyla versicolor

Sampling  for salamanders in a headwater stream in Shenandoah National ParkSampling for salamanders in a headwater stream in Shenandoah National Park

A  peaceful conclusion to a day of field work on the mountain slopes of Shenandoah  National ParkA peaceful conclusion to a day of field work on the mountain slopes of Shenandoah National Park

<em>Plethodon glutinosus</em>Plethodon glutinosus

Legendary  salamander crew in Shenandoah National ParkLegendary salamander crew in Shenandoah National Park

NEARMI study sites

Recent News

Appalachian Salamander Display at the National Zoo

The Appalachian Region is well known for its many unique attributes; not least among them are its ancient mountains, variable forest types, and formidable streams. However, one element of its uniqueness remains surprisingly obscure; salamanders. There are 535 salamander species known in the world and 76 of those species occur in the Appalachian Region, with nearly half of those species endemic to this area. The status of these salamanders remains relatively uncertain due to difficulties associated with sampling for individuals and estimating populations. A collaborative effort by NE ARMI and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is addressing some of these uncertainties by focusing research on eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), and red-backed (Plethodon cinereus) and Shenandoah salamanders (Plethodon shenandoah). One product of this effort is the establishment of an Appalachian salamander lab and exhibit at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, which is currently in the process of development. The goal is to spotlight these species as well as the science behind conserving this unique hotspot of salamander diversity.

National Zoo Exhibit
View of the Appalachian Salamander Exhibit that is currently in development at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Innovative New Study Looking at Plethodon Competition under Climate Change

The distribution of the federally endangered Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah) is restricted to isolated areas of high elevation talus slopes in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Their restricted distribution is thought to be a result of competitive pressure from the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus). Because P. shenandoah occupies talus habitats that are already warmer and drier than more optimal soil and litter habitats, this species has the potential to be severely threatened by climate change. A research effort to explore the complex competitive interactions of these salamanders under different climate scenarios is underway at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. This study may be the first to look at competition in a 3-dimensional space containing both underground and surface habitats. In addition, these competitive interactions will be explored under realistic climate conditions reflecting current and projected scenarios for these high elevation habitats. For more information about this ongoing study, please go here.

Experiment Chamber
Filming salamanders in the underground space of one of the unique 3-dimensional experimental chambers

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