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:
*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.]