Due to habitat alteration, emerging infectious diseases, and rapid climate change, biodiversity is rapidly declining across the globe. Some species, like amphibians, are particularly vulnerable to these aspects of global change and warrant state- or federal-level protection to prevent population declines or extinction. The streamside salamander (Ambystoma barbouri) is listed as endangered in the state of Tennessee and is currently undergoing a species status assessment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife department. Multiple Tennessee agencies (TWRA, TDEC), universities (Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State and Middle Tennessee State), as well as the Nashville Zoo are collaborating to understand existing threats of streamside salamanders in Tennessee and prioritize populations for conservation efforts.
Dr. Joshua Hall of TN Tech recently received a grant from TWRA to consider how Tennessee populations of streamside salamanders will respond to rising temperatures due to global change. In particular, his research group is comparing Tennessee populations of salamanders to populations from the northern portion of the range in Kentucky and Ohio. This work will demonstrate if and how Tennessee populations differ from those elsewhere in the range in their responses to temperature. This knowledge will help stakeholders at the state and federal level make conservation decisions regarding the species.
Critical to the success of this work is Dr. Hall’s graduate student, Julia Thulander, who is conducting this research for her master’s thesis. Additionally, the research could not take place without the work of numerous undergraduate students who are currently helping with data collection and animal care.
Wings up, Dr. Hall, for your efforts in protecting and understanding this species and for involving students in your research!