This research is important to the military because better information about the presence or absence of salamanders can help installation natural resource managers apply effective conservation strategies for this species. Helping provide research tools that support conservation is one of the missions of the SERDP.
The three-year SERDP project, which began in January, takes advantage of some of the Department of Energy laboratory's extensive capabilities. In addition to Bevelhimer's contributions in the area of quantitative ecology, other ORNL researchers involved in the project are Neil Giffen, a wildlife biologist, and Bill Hargrove, a habitat modeler. Fort Stewart herpetologist Dirk Stevenson is also a key player in the project and is responsible for monitoring the rare reptile and amphibian populations on base.
Kara Ravenscroft, the project's technician, actually found the first salamander, which she trapped. In subsequent sampling she has extended the date of recorded residence by larval flatwoods salamanders in Fort Stewart ponds by two to three weeks, which is well beyond the period when experts thought they normally leave ponds.
One of the project tasks consists of field experimentation to compare the larval capture efficiency of methods in use at Fort Stewart with methods used by other researchers for other salamander populations and with methods being developed during this project. These studies will be performed in coordination with the existing program, which includes sampling suspect ponds over the next six to 12 years.
Researchers also will compare sampling effectiveness of the different methods, looking closely at cost, and also use several sites to calculate the best approach to estimate juvenile abundance.
Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory