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Northeast CASC-supported researchers have found that as temperatures rise, salamander populations in North America may have a limited ability to functionally respond to higher temperatures in their current habitat.  

Salamanders typically reduce burning energy and stay cool when the temperatures are warm outside by burrowing under rocks and logs, however, the more time they remain covered to stay cool, the less time they spend foraging and eating.  

To better understand how salamanders may respond to a warming climate, Northeast CASC-supported researchers at Penn State University developed a new method for analyzing how much more energy hardy woodland amphibians, such as the eastern red-backed salamander, might expend to survive in the forests they currently inhabit in North America under a warmer climate. 

In a publication in Ecology and Evolution, the researchers explain that the North American salamanders’ bodies they studied had a limited ability to functionally respond to higher summer temperatures in a way that would be sufficient to withstand projected future climate temperatures in their current habitat. This may lead these salamanders to shift their range northward.

This work is supported by the Northeast CASC project, “Understanding the Future of Red-Backed Salamanders as an Indicator of Future Forest Health” 

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