Sleuthing for salamanders: New DNA technique boosts salamander science

A new scientific tool developed at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will allow salamander-studying scientists to trace the amphibians’ whereabouts without ever laying eyes on one of the slimy creatures. 

“It’s kind of like a crime scene investigation thing,” said Gar Secrist, the teacher/naturalist at Tremont who led the research. “You’re looking for evidence of the salamanders that were there without ever seeing the salamanders.”

Wading through nostalgia

out natcornGive a Loosiana boy a reason to don his hip boots and strap on a headlight and you’ve got a happy camper. I recently got that opportunity through a contract with the Forest Service to do a salamander survey on three streams in the Cheoah District of the Nantahala National Forest. The three small headwater streams were Wolf Laurel, Sand Creek and Whiggs Branch.

Keep your salamander away from my newt

out natcornI often remind everyone who reads “The Naturalist’s Corner” to remember to look up. But each spring while surveying birds for the Forest Service I am reminded to look down. I have a couple of survey points in the Pisgah National Forest along Locust Creek near the South Toe River that must be red eft mecca. Red eft is the terrestrial stage of eastern or red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens.) 

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