SAVE THE FROGS! and UCLA build wetlands for California Tiger Salamanders

ucla wetlands

Earlier this year, UCLA researchers asked SAVE THE FROGS! to help them build 18 research wetlands in Monterey, CA. The aim of the project is to assist the endangered California Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma californiense; hereafter CTS). The CTS is an endemic species only found in California, making it an important amphibian to protect. On June 30th and July 1, 2017, SAVE THE FROGS! Wetland Coordinator Kathlyn Osagie designed the wetlands, and on September 26th and 27th she returned to Monterey, CA and led the construction of the wetlands.

ucla wetlands
Kathlyn Osagie with Robert Cooper and volunteers after a long day in the field constructing wetlands.

The non-native Barred Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) has been interbreeding with CTS, creating hybrid offspring that are genetically and physically different than both parent species. These hybrids are not pure CTS and thus negatively impact the CTS populations.

UCLA researchers are studying the hydro-period preferences of the native CTS and the hybrids. The CTS and hybrids have different rates of development in vernal pools, and because the pools dry up each year, the animals that do not metamorphose quickly enough often dry up and die. Thus there is a strong selection towards salamanders that metamorphose quickly. A previous study that used cattle tanks suggests that CTS prefer ponds with shorter hydro-periods, while hybrids prefer longer hydro-periods. This study hopes to uncover if the same results are found in wetlands versus cattle tanks and what the preferred hydro-period for CTS versus CTS hybrids. This information can assist land managers in designing wetlands that benefit the native CTS, while excluding or limiting the unwanted hybrids.

ucla wetlands salamander
Robert Cooper (Ph.D. Candidate at UCLA) digging a test hole to test soil characteristics and search for water.

california tiger salamanders
Student volunteers from UC Santa Cruz and Cal State Monterey Bay assisted the construction.

ucla wetlands amphibians
Kathlyn Osagie directing the volunteers on setting the pesticide free liner. 

If you love our wetland program please donate today so we can continue building and restoring these critical amphibian habitats!

“Building wetlands is the best thing you can do for wildlife!”
— Kathlyn Osagie