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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Mark A. Jordan

Department/Program

Department of Biology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

Abstract

Ephemeral wetlands in the United States are under consistent threat from human encroachment. Amphibians that use these habitats, including Ambystoma salamanders, are forced to inhabit areas of decreasing size and habitat quality. It is not clear how species respond to the availability of restored habitat and barriers among habitats. The goal in performing this research is to provide insight into how different Ambystoma species respond to disturbed habitat. We trapped and recorded Ambystoma species (A. tigrinum, A. texanum, and unisexual hybrids of the A. jeffersonianum complex) that occur in two neighboring properties that are divided by a railroad track: Fox Island, a county park with a relatively wide area of forested wetlands expected to be suitable to Ambystoma and Eagle Marsh, a private land preserve that also has forested wetlands but primarily consists of emergent wetlands that were reestablished following decades of agricultural use. Tissue samples were collected from all individuals and microsatellite loci were used to confirm the hybrid status of individuals identified as A. jeffersonianum complex in the field. We compared the abundance of each species group in the range in the available habitats and assessed their likelihood for navigating the railroad barrier. The genetic analysis confirmed hybrid identifications in all cases and resulted in the first observation of a triploid genome consisting of A. laterale, A. texanum, and A. jeffersonianum (LTJ) in the state of Indiana. Initial results of habitat association show strict aversion to emergent breeding pools in A. texanum while others, A. tigrinum and A. LTJ, showed lower numbers within such habitats but an ability to make use of them. Our preliminary analysis suggests greater plasticity in habitat use found in A. tigrinum and A. LTJ while A. texanum demonstrates high fidelity to forested wetlands.

Disciplines

Biology | Life Sciences

Ambystoma Species and the Ambystoma jeffersonianum-hybrid Complex: A Comparison of Abundance in Established and Restored Wetland Habitats

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