Population Demography and Food Web Analysis of Large Aquatic Salamanders (Siren and Amphiuma) in North Florida

Science Center Objects

Understanding amphibian's life-histories can help predict how they may persist in aquatic habitats in the face of droughts and other climate change-associated events. 

Population Demography and Food Web Analysis of Large Aquatic Salamanders (Siren and Amphiuma) in North Florida

Researchers collected salamanders at the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station. 

The Science Issue and Relevance: Capture-recapture methods are demographic tools that are valuable for estimating the sizes of populations, survival, and other vital rates of animals that are otherwise difficult to observe. As such, these methods offer a unique opportunity to study the temporal and spatial variability in the demography of populations. Understanding a species’ life-history is critical to planning conservation and management strategies for that species. We have conducted a mark-recapture study of two genera of large aquatic salamanders, Siren and Amphiuma, at the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station of the University of Florida. The impact of this research is that it provides estimates of population sizes, individual longevity, growth rates, survival, and dispersal for these two salamanders, all of which are critical to designing conservation and management strategies. Moreover, an understanding of these demographic parameters is vital to predicting how amphibians may persist in aquatic habitats in the face of droughts and other environmental perturbations associated with climate change. 

Methodology for Addressing the Issue: We collected salamanders using modified crayfish traps without bait. Trapping was conducted at least once a month for a 5-day/4-night period during each sampling event. We measured and weighed all sirens and amphiumas, checked for the presence of an existing passive internal transponder (PIT tag), marked if necessary, and then released them. PIT tags are a well-established marking technique for aquatic salamanders. This method provides an efficient and permanent mark with a minimum of stress to the salamanders. 

Population Demography and Food Web Analysis of Large Aquatic Salamanders (Siren and Amphiuma) in North Florida

Capture-recapture offers demographic data for amphibian species of interest, including Siren and Amphiuma

Future Steps:  Project fieldwork has ended; researchers in the analysis/manuscript preparation phase. No further work is planned.