species considered to be in imminent danger of extinction within the next 5-10 years
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – We are thrilled to announce that our conservation team will soon begin caring for a new species at risk: the Frosted Flatwood Salamander.
The arrival of these salamander larvae will kick off our efforts to protect amphibians.
We have partnered with the Amphibian Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia to care for this critically endangered species with the goal of trying to successfully breed them in the future. In the next few weeks, about twenty frosted salamander larvae will arrive at our Zoo.
This species is considered to be in imminent danger of extinction within the next 5-10 years due to the loss of its habitat, the longleaf pine ecosystem, which has been reduced to 3% of its range in origin.
There are only three populations of Frosted Flatwood Salamander known to still live within their native range in Georgia and Florida. Both Florida populations have habitats east of the Apalachicola River in Franklin, Wakulla, Liberty, Jefferson and Baker counties, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
These larvae will be the first we receive, but we hope to receive more next season. Frosted flatwood salamanders reach sexual maturity between 2.5 and 3 years of age.
Although little information about their lifespans is known, other species of salamanders live an average of 20 years, according to Luis Carrillo, an amphibian conservation planner who has partnered with our zoo.
The larvae will be kept in a hidden place. In the larval stage, these salamanders eat various aquatic invertebrates such as brine shrimp and daphnia, or water fleas, and even small worms.
Adult Frosted Flatwood Salamanders are burrowers or burrowers, so they also eat black and white grubs.
Frosted Flatwood Salamander larvae are fully aquatic, so we will keep them in aquarium habitats. They have gills for breathing underwater, and those gills begin to reabsorb when they’re ready to leave the water, Carrillo said. Once this happens we will provide a dry area in their habitat with sphagnum moss.
Erratic weather patterns have also played a role in the population decline of this salamander species, according to the Amphibian Foundation.
Frosted flatwood salamanders breed at the edge of temporarily dry pools of water. The eggs hatch when the rains fill the ponds – if this does not happen, the year’s offspring are lost.
When the time comes, we will recreate this unique egg-laying instinct by providing our adult salamanders with a dual environment with dry and wet areas to mimic these temporary pools. Water levels will be controlled with a drain valve at the bottom of the habitat.
Any offspring that may come from these 20 salamanders will be released back into their native range, either Florida or Georgia. This will be decided by the Captive Breeding Group and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Our conservation team has conservation breeding programs for two key Florida species: the Perdido Key beach mouse and the Florida grasshopper sparrow, and we hoped to facilitate similar programs for amphibians, among other goals to help this group. of animals.
A third to a half of all amphibian species are threatened with extinction due to various causes such as habitat loss, pollution, disease and climate change.