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Tuesday, January 30 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
SYMPOSIA-06: Tiger Salamander Larval Size, Density, and Diet in the Prairie Potholes of West-Central Minnesota

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AUTHORS. Heather Waye, University of Minnesota Morris; Zach Smith, National Ecological Observatory Network

ABSTRACT. Tiger salamanders are a common inhabitant of aquatic habitats across much of North America. Despite their abundance, we know relatively little about their life history in the Prairie Pothole Region. Given the global interest in the health of amphibian species, we should be particularly interested in the environmental factors that influence their survival and reproduction. We have recorded variations in larval Eastern Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) capture and growth rates in ponds in west-central Minnesota. Many factors could affect larval survival and growth rates, including availability and quality of food. The goal of this study was to examine prairie pond aquatic invertebrate communities in relation to tiger salamander population density and larval size. Three ponds were each sampled in June and August of 2015 and 2016. Larval density was estimated using the number of captures per trap-night, and aquatic invertebrates were sampled at each trap site using standardized sweeps. Invertebrates collected from the ponds and from salamander stomach contents were identified and counted. Salamander larval density varied between ponds by an order of magnitude and June capture rates were more than double those in August. Pond invertebrates were similar between sites in June, but not in August. Salamander stomach samples were also similar in June, while differences in August reflected variation in salamander size more than invertebrate availability. Major differences in invertebrate communities and/or larval diets between the ponds may suggest a factor influencing the variation in salamander reproductive success in seemingly similar pond habitats.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm CST