Symposium: Current research on amphibians and reptiles in the Upper Midwest
10:00 AM - 12:15 PM Tue
Co-author: Katherine Greenwald, Eastern Michigan University
Title: Temporal changes in unisexual and sexual Ambystoma salamander populations in southeast Michigan
Abstract: Climate change drives shifts in organisms' environmental niches, which can lead to changes in distribution and population structure. Unisexual (all female) Ambystoma salamanders reproduce by "stealing"sperm from sympatric males of sexually reproducing species, making them reliant on the presence of these sexual species to persist. We analyzed historic and modern-day unisexual and sexual (A. laterale) samples from the University of Michigan's Edwin S. George Reserve using epidermal cell nuclei measurements and microsatellite loci. We found that population composition has shifted away from the more northern-distributed A. laterale and toward populations dominated by LLJ unisexuals in five out of six ponds. There was a significant relationship between population composition and pond size, but not between population composition and canopy cover, mean temperature, or maximum temperature. Changes in population composition could be an important consequence of climate change for the unisexual Ambystoma complex and sympatric sexual species.
Bio: Kelsey Mitchell earned her master's degree in ecology, evolution, & organismal biology from Eastern Michigan University (EMU). Her graduate thesis work focused on how climate change affects sexual and unisexual salamander populations in Southeast Michigan. Kelsey currently teaches biology courses at EMU, where she can share her passion for ecology with her students.