Flatwoods Salamander
Recovery Project

Moss Salamander
Research and Recovery Project

Locally, we’ve chosen a recovery project for Flatwoods Salamanders (Ambystoma cingulatum), run by Mark Mandica from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens Amphibian Conservation Program. He, Leslie Phillips, Brad Wilson and about a dozen volunteers and interns are devoted to conserving amphibians through in situ and ex situ applied research strategies.

The flatwoods salamanders (A.cingulatum) are in real trouble and facing impending extinction. Recent research indicates there has been a 90% reduction in their populations since 1999.A plan for recovery needs to be initiated now. In response to this decline, a Structured Decision Making workshop sponsored by USFWS and USGS and occurred in August 2014 to discuss options and alternatives for flatwoods salamander recovery.

The week long summit was attended by state and federal agencies as well as academic and research institutions monitoring the remaining flatwoods salamander populations. There it was determined that these species, and particularly the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) would be extinct within 3-5 years unless actions were taken immediately to mitigate their decline.

Options such as translocations and head-starting animals were discussed and ruled out due to the fact that only a few, if any animals have been detected in the wild in recent years. The group concluded that the time for in situ conservation strategies had passed and that if any mitigation of flatwoods salamander population declines were possible, it would most likely need to happen through ex situ captive breeding and experimental release.

A salamander recovery initiative like this has never been previously attempted, and this species has never before been bred before in captivity, so there are many hurdles to overcome. The first of which would be to find enough animals to establish a functioning captive breeding colony. The Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Amphibian Conservation Program has a long history with breeding rare and endangered amphibian species and has the facilities of the botanical garden to focus on the advancement of Ambystoma cingulatum.

Funds raised through the National Amphibian Expo's "Shirts for Salamanders" campaign will go towards helping with the costs of field sampling for salamander larvae for collection, as well as the ex situ component of the captive breeding studies at Atlanta Botanical Garden, such as artificial wetland construction, captive husbandry materials and food for these imperiled salamanders.

For more information, please visit: blog.frogsneedourhelp.org

Globally, we’ve chosen a research and recovery project for eight species of Moss Salamanders (genus: Nototriton) that are endemic to Costa Rica, this project is run by Brian Kubicki from the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center (C.R.A.R.C.). Brian Kubicki and his wife Aura Reyes have dedicated hundreds of hours of fieldwork in the cloud forests along the Caribbean slopes of Costa Rica specifically to studying moss salamanders.

The Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center (C.R.A.R.C.), is a small privately owned and operated biological research center that is dedicated to studying, understanding, and conserving one of the most ecologically important animal groups of Costa Rica’s humid forest ecosystems, that of the amphibians. The C.R.A.R.C. was started by Brian Kubicki in 2002 to further biological studies and conservation efforts with Costa Rican amphibians and one of their most vital habitats, that of the premontane forests of the Caribbean slopes of the Talamanca mountains of Costa Rica.

One of the research projects the C.R.A.R.C. is currently involved with is a study of the countries' salamanders, with a special emphasis on the eight species of moss salamanders (genus: Nototriton) that are endemic to Costa Rica.The projects goal is to conduct a detailed taxonomic review of the moss salamanders of Costa Rica, in addition to further documenting their natural history and known distributions.

Moss salamanders are considered to be among the most poorly known groups of herpetofauna native to Costa Rica, but Brian is working hard to change that. In addition to studying moss salamanders in the field, Brian has also been working with them in captivity at the C.R.A.R.C., discovering important aspects into their secretive biology, while at the same time developing the critical methodology for keeping and breeding Neotropical salamanders ex situ. Brian has now successful bred several species of moss salamanders in captivity, marking the first time any species of moss salamanders have been bred ex situ.

Funds raised through the National Amphibian Expo "Shirts for Salamanders" campaign will go towards helping with the costs of the ex situ component of the salamander studies at the C.R.A.R.C., specifically electricity, terrarium supplies, and terrarium construction materials.

For more information, please visit: cramphibian.com/