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Urban stream syndrome and contaminant uptake in salamanders of Central Texas

July 2, 2020

We studied the ecological health of springs experiencing varying levels of urban development to assess impacts to rare endemic salamanders (Eurycea spp.) of Central Texas. We evaluated measures of invertebrate species richness, water quality, and contaminant uptake by salamanders to determine how springs and their inhabitants were being affected by urban growth and changing land-use patterns. The number of environmental contaminants present and concentrations of contaminants increased in both water and salamander tissues with increasing age of the developments (i.e., years postconstruction) and increasing levels of impervious cover (e.g., roads) in urban watersheds compared with nondeveloped sites. We conclude that urbanization and associated increases in pollutant loading in watersheds can result in a loss of spring biodiversity and the accumulation of persistent and potentially toxic pollutants in salamanders. Although we detected generally low levels of pollutants, the altered water quality and invertebrate composition observed at springs, coupled with the changing hydrology and chronic contaminant exposure inherent in urban landscapes, is cause for concern, with potential implications for the long-term health, survival, and recovery of salamanders.

Publication Year 2020
Title Urban stream syndrome and contaminant uptake in salamanders of Central Texas
DOI 10.3996/032018-JFWM-017
Authors Peter H. Diaz, Erik L. Orsak, Floyd W. Weckerly, Mike A. Montagne, David Alvarez
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Index ID 70210902
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Columbia Environmental Research Center