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Resilient Salamanders

July 19, 2018

New research shows that salamanders are more adaptable to warming temperatures than was thought.

Transcript

Clemson University scientist Michael Sears (left) and former Clemson Ph.D. student Eric Riddell have been conducting research on salamanders for more than five years. (Pete Martin)

Clemson University scientist Michael Sears (left) and former Clemson Ph.D. student Eric Riddell have been conducting research on salamanders for more than five years. (Pete Martin)

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

Salamanders that take some heat. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The Appalachian Mountains of the southeastern U.S. are a world-renowned hotbed of salamander diversity. Now a study in the journal Science Advances provides some hope that they can survive in a changing world. UC Berkeley biologist Eric Riddell and his colleagues report that the animals can tolerate changing climate conditions better than was thought.

ERIC RIDDELL (UC Berkeley, formerly at Clemson):

That means that adaptation doesn’t need to occur; no evolutionary change needs to occur. they might be able to deal with it now. Which is really exciting.

HIRSHON:

In work conducted at Clemson University, he and his colleagues found the salamanders could alter their metabolic rate and resist dehydration far better than expected. While they are still threatened by disease and loss of habitat, the discovery that they can thrive on a warming planet bodes well for the survival of these extraordinary creatures. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon