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Ecology: Salamanders adapt to life on the roadAdd to my bookmarks

Scientific Reports

January 27, 2012

Populations of spotted salamander in the northeastern United States have become adapted to life near roads, suggests a paper published in Scientific Reports. The global network of roads has expanded over the last half-century and continues to increase but although the ecological consequences of roads are well described, the evolutionary outcomes remain largely unevaluated. Steven Brady examined the effects of road adjacency on a pool-breeding amphibian, the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum), by conducting a reciprocal transplant experiment across ten natural temporary pools, five near roads and five in woodland, comprising typical breeding sites for this species. The survival, growth and development of hatchling-stage larvae were measured. The roadside environment had strong negative impacts on embryonic salamander survival regardless of whether the animals originated from a roadside or woodland pool: the average survival rate of individuals in roadside pools was 56%, compared with 87% in woodland pools. Additionally, Brady found that in roadside pools, roadside-derived embryos out-survived those from woodland pools by 25%. The results provide further evidence that roads negatively affect species occupying road-adjacent habitats and the study reveals that even on small spatial scales, local population responses can describe substantial variation in capacity to tolerate anthropogenic environmental changes.

DOI:10.1038/srep00235 | Original article

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