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Streamflow Variability Due to Climate Change Is Affecting Survival of Salamanders

New research from the University of Montana means that streamflow variability introduced on by climate change will negatively affect the survival of salamanders.

UM, biology Professor Winsor Lowe and his companions studied spring salamanders living in five New Hampshire streams. Like many streams across the globe, these waterways are experiencing better fluctuations between high and low flows caused by climate change.

The researchers revealed that streamflow variability could kill salamanders, whereas they’re metamorphosing from larvae to adults. The analysis was published in the Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in an article titled “Hydrologic variability contributes to lowered survival via metamorphosis in a stream salamander.”

He mentioned the analysis suggests society shouldn’t focus on average conditions because it tries to know and manage the effects of climate change. Scientists and managers additionally should take note of changes in environmental variability, which can improve with climate change.

Using a 20-year dataset from Merrill Brook in New Hampshire, the researchers confirmed the abundance of spring salamander adults declined about 50% since 1999; however, no trend was noted for larval abundance. Scientists then studied whether streamflow variability at Merrill Brook and streams within the close by Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest affected the survival of salamanders metamorphosing from larvae to adults. They discovered that fewer salamanders survived metamorphosis throughout years when streamflow variability was high, resulting in the decline in the adult population.

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