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PM01 Amphibian Research and Monitoring
(PM008) Absence of Salamanders from Parts of Their Putative Range Near a Former Zinc Smelter in Pennsylvania.
Horne, M1, Molnar, G2, Henry, R3, Sprenger, M4, 1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Basking Ridge, NJ, USA2 Lockheed-Martin/REAC, Edison, NJ, USA3 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Edison, NJ, USA4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Edison, NJ, USA
ABSTRACT- A terrestrial salamander survey was conducted in the area surrounding a former zinc smelter in northeastern Pennsylvania. This smelter is responsible for heavy metal contamination of the surrounding areas, and the survey was conducted to determine if salamander populations have been adversely affected. Due to their sensitive nature, highly permeable skin, and sedentary lifestyle, amphibians are known to be good indicators of environmental stress. A visual encounter technique was used to survey the salamander community across a geographic range that encompassed habitats which superficially appeared healthy, into habitats which were marginal or poor due to elevated concentrations of metals in the soil and vegetation. At each survey location, soil was collected and analyzed for metals, pH, total organic carbon, and moisture content, and habitat characteristics critical to salamanders were evaluated. One-way analysis of variance was used to compare differences in metal, pH, and total organic carbon at locations where salamanders were present with locations where they were absent. Results of the study showed that concentrations of heavy metals were significantly higher in areas where salamanders were absent than in areas where the salamanders were present. The evidence drawn from this investigation suggested that the presence of high concentrations of metals is directly related with the absence of salamanders. This absence may be attributed to the degradation or destruction of appropriate habitat and/or the presence of elevated levels of metals in soil. In either case, the results suggest that the former smelter has negatively impacted the terrestrial salamander communities.
Key words: metals, salamander, smelter
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