Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Salamanders Are a More Abundant Food Source in Forest Ecosystems Than Previously Thought

19.11.2014

Advanced statistical methods used in study increase previous population estimates

In the 1970s, ecologists published results from one of the first whole-forest ecosystem studies ever conducted in Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire. In the paper, scientists reported that salamanders represent one of the largest sources of biomass, or food, of all vertebrates in the forest landscape.


Southern Redback Salamander

Semlitsch’s study measured the population density and biomass of the Southern Redback Salamander in the Ozark Highlands in Missouri. Credit: Katie O’Donnell

Now, using new sampling and statistical techniques not available during the past study, researchers at the University of Missouri have estimated that the population of salamanders in forested regions of the Missouri Ozarks are 2-4 times higher than originally thought, and in other regions of the eastern U.S. may be on average 10 times higher. Scientists believe that acknowledging salamanders as one of the main food sources in forest ecosystems could help drive conservation efforts and forest management.

“Our lab works to identify salamanders as an influential part of the forest ecosystem and food chain,” said Ray Semlitsch, Curators Professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU.

“Using the latest research methods, we calculated the population size of Southern Redback Salamanders in Ozark Forests and their value as a food source. We found that 1.88 billion salamanders inhabit one district of the Mark Twain National Forest alone, which is roughly 1,400 metric tons of biomass. For comparison, that’s equivalent to the biomass found in most whitetail deer in that region!”

There are two methods for estimating abundance. One is to simply count salamanders and plot the numbers on a grid representing the forest landscape. That is how the estimates were calculated in the 1970s.

However, Semlitsch’s group, armed with the knowledge that the majority of salamanders are underground at any given time, captured animals on the surface during intensive repeated surveys over two years and used statistical modeling to produce a more thorough accounting of variation in salamander population density.

“Our abundance models also take into account environmental factors,” Semlitsch said. “Factors such as date of collection, time since last rainfall, slope of the terrain and forest canopy cover are plugged into the model to help predict variation in the surface population over time; that’s what makes our model so powerful. The hidden biodiversity of amphibians is something we don’t generally consider; we forget that salamanders are nocturnal and mostly unobserved. Therefore, I think most will be amazed at the quantities of food out there that we just don’t see.”

Semlitsch believes that future research should consider the importance of amphibians to ecosystem processes such as soil enrichment. Future forest management techniques and protection of salamanders are important to healthy forest ecosystems and should be considered in all forest management decisions, Semlitsch said.

The study, “Abundance, biomass production, nutrient content, and the possible role of terrestrial salamanders in Missouri Ozark forest ecosystems,” was published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, and was funded in part by the U.S. Forest Service cooperative Agreement with support from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Katie O’Donnell, a doctoral student in the Division of Biological Sciences at MU, and Frank Thompson, director of the Forest Service Experimental Station at MU, co-authored the paper.

-30-

Editor’s Note: To read an extended interview with Semlitsch about this study, please visit: “Semlitsch talks about his study on salamander abundance.”

Jeff Sossamon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2014/1118-salamanders-are-a-more-abundant-food-source-in-forest-ecosystems-than-previously-thought/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dead trees are alive with fungi
10.01.2018 | Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

nachricht Management of mountain meadows influences resilience to climate extremes
10.01.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

16.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

ISFH-CalTeC is “designated test centre” for the confirmation of solar cell world records

16.01.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>