Citizen Scientists Search For Salamanders, Frogs

SHUBERT – UNL Herpetologist Dennis Ferraro encouraged citizen scientists to help monitor Nebraska’s salamanders and other amphibians during a Saturday presentation at Indian Cave State Park.

Tiger salamanders are still found in Nebraska’s Sandhills region, but were once common in southeast Nebraska, as well. The area is still home to the rare, small-mouthed salamander.

Ferraro said scientist are investigating several possible reasons why the salamanders are no longer found in southeast Nebraska, including disease, acidic soils, phosphates and agricultural fungicides.

He said salamanders prefer fishless ponds that will go dry briefly on occasion. Such ponds were plentiful when beaver roamed the land.

Ferraro said he is interested in learning more about fungicide impacts on the salamanders. He said the presence of agricultural fungicide, which is used to protect corn, may trick the salamander into thinking it is covered in mucus and does not need to produce its own fungicide.

There is currently a salamander habitat under development at Henry Doorly Zoo, but Ferraro said there has been no successful reproduction habitat in captivity to date.

It is unlawful to possess or touch smallmouth salamanders in Nebraska.

The salamander search turned into a frog search as about 50 citizen scientists listened for frog calls.

Participants were instructed on how to property handle amphibians so contaminants on their hands to do interfere with the breathing process of the skin, as well as taking DNA swabs and water samples.

Herpetology lab



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