Term of Award

2001

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Department

Department of Biology

Committee Chair

David C. Rostal

Committee Member 1

Steve Vives

Committee Member 2

Bruce Schulte

Abstract

The flatwoods salamander Ambystoma cingulatwn was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. Very little still remains known about the natural history and ecology of this species and most recent studies have focused primarily on Florida A. cingulatum populations. A study on the natural history and ecology of the flatwoods salamander Ambystoma cingiilatum from the Atlantic Coastal Plain is presented. Methods of study included analysis of field data collected over a five-year period as well as analyzing museum specimens. Topics examined include environmental correlates responsible for and inducing breeding migrations, larval growth and developmental rates, metamorph size and emergence, seasonal activity patterns, and conservation considerations. Factors influencing breeding migrations were analyzed Rainfall was the most significant factor affecting breeding migrations of A. cingulatum on the Atlantic Coastal Plain along with minimum air temperature. Ambystoma cingulatum became active when soil temperature at 30 cm was between 17-230C. Males did not arrive at sights before females. Sexual dimorphism between the sexes is documented and presented. Males although they may not show obvious cloacal swelling have structurally different cloacae than females. In addition males have longer cloacae than females. Based on analysis of museum specimens, growth rates of larvae are similar to those in Florida. Larvae from Florida however appear to be able to reach larger sizes than those on the Atlantic Coastal Plain prior to metamorphosis. Limb bud development is analyzed and measurements on larvae from the Atlantic Coastal Plain are presented, as are measurements on metamorphs. Conservation considerations are discussed and analysis of seasonal activity patterns from 1963-2000 reveal that A. cingirfatun is a species adapted to a summer only bum regimen. Ambystoma cingulatum in Georgia may be in greater danger of extinction than those in Florida.

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