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Salamander Streams

March 21, 2006

When it comes to nature, little things can make a big difference. We have one example from the streams of the Ozark Plateau.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
How streambeds shape a species. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Imagine if your body type depended on the pile of your carpet. That’s kind of like the life of the Oklahoma salamander, according to evolutionary biologists Ron Bonett and Paul Chippindale at the University of Texas at Arlington. The salamanders are born in streams as fish-like larvae. Bonett says that in streams with large, loosely packed gravel, the salamanders mature and breed in this fishy form, and wriggle down to underground water during the dry summers. But other streambeds are more tightly packed.

RON BONETT (University of Texas at Arlington):
And so in the summertime, when the stream’s dry at the surface, there’s not really any access to any underground water.

HIRSHON:
So instead, these salamanders shed their gills and transform their bodies for a new life on land. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.