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Metals, Parasites, and Environmental Conditions Affecting Breeding Populations of Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) in Northern Arkansas, USA


The spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is indigenous to northern Arkansas, and several breeding sites are known to exist in the region. Spotted salamanders (n = 17) were collected and examined for parasites and only three females harbored nematodes (Physaloptera spp.). Chronic aquatic bioassays were conducted using water collected from eight breeding ponds during different hydroperiod events. No lethal or sublethal effects were measured in Ceriodaphnia dubia; however, decreased growth and survival were seen in Pimephales promelas. Aqueous, sediment, and salamander hepatic samples were analyzed for As, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Ni. Metal analysis revealed possible increased metal exposure following precipitation, with greatest metal concentrations measured in sediment samples. Hepatic metal concentrations were similar in parasitized and non-parasitized individuals, and greatest Pb concentrations were measured following normal precipitation events. Determining environmental stressors of amphibians, especially during their breeding and subsequent larval life stage, is imperative to improve species conservation.

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We thank the volunteers who assisted with field and laboratory data collection, Shirley Farmer for allowing us access to her property, Arkansas State University Ecotoxicology Research Facility, and Charles R. Bursey for nematode species identification. Funding and supplies were supported by the Department of Biological Sciences, Tom S. Risch, and NSF CBET-1040466 MRI Grant. GIS maps were kindly constructed by Alix Matthews. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

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Correspondence to Heather M. DeMali.

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DeMali, H.M., Trauth, S.E. & Bouldin, J.L. Metals, Parasites, and Environmental Conditions Affecting Breeding Populations of Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) in Northern Arkansas, USA. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 96, 732–737 (2016).

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  • Amphibian
  • Aquatic bioassay
  • Breeding season
  • Precipitation
  • Toxicity
  • Water quality