SRS’ salamander study results in a Guinness World Record

Anthony Carpino

Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2019
News 12 First at 5 O’Clock

SAVANNAH RIVER SITE, SC (WRDW/WAGT) — After wetlands were filled in at the Savannah River Site, studies were conducted to figure out the impact on wildlife like the salamander. Officially started in 1978, the study has continued consistently over the past 42 years, resulting in a Guinness World Record.
This all takes place at in a wetland called Rainbow Bay. And a lot has changed over the past 40 years. What once started out as wetland area in a field with tall grasses as transformed into a forested area. With more trees consuming more water, water levels in the wetlands have been decreasing.

But it’s not all caused by trees, recent data shows that climate change has played a roll in affecting water levels. Over the past few decades there has been a noticeable decreasing trend in the hydrologic cycle.

With less water available the wetlands don’t stay wet as long throughout the year. While some species of salamander don’t mind having less water, like the Marble Salamander, others, like the Tiger Salamander and the Red Spotted Newt have be forced to find another place to live.

“We have a really big population of Marble Salamanders here and the others except for one have gone locally extinct,” Stacey Lance, an associate research scientist at the Savannah River Ecology Lab said.

Even so, the information that’s been collected is extensive and provides a large data-set on a topic that most scientists don’t have access too, like the age and accurate population of salamanders. Scientists and researchers at the SREL can now share the data and help their colleagues around the country with studying salamanders in their areas.

“We can take the information from here and apply it to other populations in other places, and so it’s just a very unusual ability to be able to have these data,” Lance said.

Usually a study like this one only lasts a few years or so but due to the steady stream of funding through the Department of Energy at SRS the study has been able to continue.
If you’d like to learn more about the study you can click the following links:

The Rainbow Bay Long-term Study
A Breeding Congress

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