U.S. Agencies, Liberty University Keep Peaks Of Otter Salamander Off Endangered Species List
December 18, 2019
The conservation efforts of the Peaks of Otter Salamander at Liberty University in Virginia has been recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), as successful, and the amphibian won’t be placed on the Endangered Species List.
The Peaks of Otter salamander lives in just a 12 mile area of Virginia.
The efforts of Dr. Norman Reichenbach and Dr. Paul Sattler have apparently paid off for the little five inch salamander that has a worldwide distribution of just 12 miles of Virginia forest.
“We teach our students all sorts of interesting things about ecology and molecular biology, and with the work we’re doing on the Peaks of Otter salamander, we actually get them out of the classroom to apply this knowledge in the field,” the professors said in a joint statement released by the university. “Through their work, our students are actually contributing to the conservation of a species.”
The professors have involved their undergraduate students in the study of this species since the early 1990s and they have found that another salamander, the Eastern redbacked salamander, which has a much larger native range, competes with the Peaks of Otter salamander, which the professors says endangers the future of the species.
“The big thing was figuring out what’s causing this animal to be boxed in and have such a restricted distribution,” Reichenbach said. “We need to carefully manage the perimeter of its habitat. As owners of the land where the Peaks of Otter salamander lives, the USFWS, NPS and USFS understand that, and we are working jointly to ensure that the forest canopy is kept intact in the perimeter areas so that we don’t create conditions that would favor Eastern Redbacked salamander population growth and range expansion to the detriment of the Peaks of Otter salamander.”
This collaboration of government and the university has apparently paid off for the salamander as timber harvesting is managed that prevents the establishment of Eastern redbacked salamander, a known competitor of the Peaks of Otter salamander.