Shenandoah Salamander

27 ShenandoahSalamander-caseygirard

About Them: Like many salamanders found along the Appalachians these are about 3.5-4.5 inches long and overall brown, sometimes showing a yellow to reddish delicate stripe down their backs and sometimes all brown with orangish flecking. These stand out as they only live on three peaks within Shenandoah National Park over 2,600 feet. They use talus slopes near tree lines for breeding and habitat. They breed without water so full development takes place within an egg. Females don’t reach maturity until 4 and then they only breed every other year. However, they should live to be over 20 and will breed throughout that time. 

Their plight: Given their tiny range they are under threat of human encroachment including recreational activities within the park, non-native insect forest damage, and being overrun by the other local salamander the Red Backed because climate change is possibly pushing them closer together. The Shenandoah Salamander was originally put on the Endangered Species List because it was noted that their habitat was limited and the development and alteration needed to be halted allowing for better protected lands. Since then there has been less concern as it seems as though these amphibians have perfect protections being within a National Park. However, there is concern for their continued progress. More research has been done in recent years and plans for recovery are not well covered in the write up from 1996.

What we should consider: Anytime I come to a species that is affected by climate change I think of an ab workout. To get chiseled abs you have to handle your whole body health. No matter how many sit-ups you do your won’t see the muscle structure unless your overall body is managed*. Its a hard thing for one human to always or almost always make good life choices, how do you convince the whole world to be involved in needed everyday steps to live a life that has less impact on earth?

To live environmentally friendly realistically means letting go of the time saving technology we have worked hard to implement into our lives. It will mean working harder and spending more time doing chores. We need innovations and incentives to make the less impactful life choices the ones everyone wants to chose. You also have to show they can be profitable so you get companies to know they can succeed with them and turn the economy. This is an enormously complicated system that we are so deep into the wrong way. It all starts moving towards a better future as each of us makes individual choices that start the change.

What is being done: Lab studies to research how the Shenandoah Salamander react to climate change scenarios amongst the Red-Backed Salamander are underway. Attention to the habitat of Shenandoah National Park along with signs of restricted access to specific areas throughout are in place. It is hoped that in 2019 more will be implemented from this new research through Fish and Wildlife as long as overall budget cuts don’t cause troubles.

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, land,  and waterways. Demand to representatives that Fish & Wildlife is an important part of our government infrastructure and as such needs proper funding. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.nps.gov/shen/learn/nature/shenandoah_salamander.htm

https://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/amphibians/salamanders/shenandoah-salamander/shenandoah_salamander.php

https://www.arkive.org/shenandoah-salamander/plethodon-shenandoah/

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/amphibians/Shenandoah_salamander/index.html

https://amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Plethodon&where-species=shenandoah

https://insider.si.edu/2009/07/endangered-shenandoah-salamander-clings-to-its-territory-on-skyline-drive/

https://www.theglobaleducationproject.org/climate-change/animals/shenandoah-salamander

http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/saving_the_shenandoah_salamander/

https://www.fws.gov/northeast/pdf/ShenandoahSalamander.pdf

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=D01G

https://www.bayjournal.com/article/shenandoah_salamander_a_rare_find_becoming_even_more_scarce

https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/shenandoah-salamander/

*All body types are beautiful. Not every body type would even present with cut muscles and that is not a connotation of health. This was meant as only a metaphor and not a needed life style suggestion.

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

California Tiger Salamander

cts-caseygirard

About Them: A large black and yellow salamander that is endemic to California. There are other Tiger Salamanders, but the California Tiger Salamander is genetically different than the other subspecies. The CTS are best equipped to deal with the habitat of California’s grasslands and vernal pools. Vernal pools are small bodies of water that are only filled during the wet season. This means the life that flourishes in them is fairly specialized and used to periods of no water.

During the dry season CTSs use burrows generally dug by small mammals to survive. They go into aestivation, kind of like hibernation. The distance between these burrows and the vernal pools can be as far as a mile.

Their plight: This is another species that needs a kind of habitat that is very difficult to meld into human development. Large open grassland or foothill spaces with safe tracks for a small amphibian to walk through. These are often used for development of homes and roads leaving the salamander few pathways that aren’t interrupted by human traffic.

Then they need depressions capable of being vernal pools, generally these are also removed because vernal pools breed mosquitos.

With their reliance on the burrows of small mammals, this means they are exposed to the pesticides that are used to try to eradicate the mammals.

Finally the introduction of invasive species such as the nonnative tiger salamander which, are cross breeding with California Tiger Salamanders. The hybrids are strong more aggressive and more able to survive, but they decimate the vernal pools which, will ultimately lead to ecosystem collapse. Nonnative bullfrogs have also been introduced and  are an overly aggressive predator to the CTS.   

What we should consider: The California Endangered Species Act is almost more narrow in its scope of expectation on individual and company compliance than the ESA. It can have such tough requirements even if the farmers, who now own most of the land that is good habitat for these salamanders, are interested in being involved, to be certified is more complicated or expensive than they can manage. One scientist* for Fish and Wildlife found law that allows them a work around to still be able to comply for the safety of these salamanders without being disinterested in participating because of complex paperwork. These laws are needed to help guide humans that don’t totally understand care of habitat and species. These help them make choices that are in the right direction for the environment, but it is equally important that the laws are written so they are also tenable for anyone.

What is being done: The California Tiger Salamander was only recently added to the Endangered Species List. It has been a fight to get attention and follow through for a recovery plan. In 2017 a final recovery plan was created.

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, land, and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration projects
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Here is FWS’s pamphlet on how to help: https://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es_species/Accounts/Amphibians-Reptiles/Documents/What_You_Can_Do.pdf

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es_species/Accounts/Amphibians-Reptiles/ca_tiger_salamander/

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/amphibians/California_tiger_salamander/

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/californiatigersalamander.htm

*https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Science-Institute/Featured-Scientist/Tag/tiger-salamander

https://www.pacificforest.org/species/california-tiger-salamander/

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Endangered-California-Tiger-Salamander-Gets-Tunnel-Under-Highway/

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Wild-Lizards/Californias-Super-Salamander-Dilemma/

https://lindsaywildlife.org/animal-ambassador/california-tiger-salamander/

https://www.fws.gov/sacramento/es_species/Accounts/Amphibians-Reptiles/Documents/What_You_Can_Do.pdf

http://www.californiaherps.com/salamanders/pages/a.californiense.html

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Your Choice

Another vote on what I’m working on! Here are progress sketches of two new portfolio pieces I’m working on. I could finish either first but, which do you want to see done first? Vote in the comments!

Just three more days of a Sale at my Etsy Store! Be sure to drop by and spread the word! If you share the news you are entered in a giveaway of my Animals in Alphabet Poster! The winner will be announced Saturday morning.