Phenology of Breeding Migrations of Three Ambystoma Species

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Ephemeral wetlands are an important but limiting resource for wetland breeding amphibians, but the amount of this habitat continues to decrease. One way to slow or reverse wetland loss is to employ land management practices to restore deteriorated habitat. Burns, physical removal of invasive species, and other methods that disturb the vegetation community are used to restore native vegetation surrounding ephemeral wetlands. While these methods can help restore wetlands, they can also negatively impact Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) if timing is not considered. Three woodland mole salamander species (Ambystoma jeffersonianum, Ambystoma platineum, and Ambystoma laterale) are examples of SGCN amphibians whose breeding phenologies coincide with normal management season (late winter). The adult breeding season, which can start as early as January for some species, leads to a large migration of adult salamanders to breeding wetlands. Timing of management practices informed by SGCN phenologies could help facilitate conservation of these species. To help address this, we compared patterns in the vernal breeding migrations among the three Ambystoma species at three sites along a latitudinal gradient in Illinois. Using drift fences and pitfall traps, we analyzed the nightly movements of breeding adults to their breeding wetlands. We will use proximate weather data (rainfall, air temperature, soil temperature) to understand the timing and pulses of migration across years. Understanding and predicting when breeding migrations occur will aid in land management decisions such as woodland burns and wetland restoration efforts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMidwest Fish and Wildlife Conference 2020
StatePublished - 2020


  • INHS


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