Promiscuous salamander reproduction research


This 2015 video is called Ambystoma andersoni, Anderson’s Salamander.

From the University of Iowa in the USA:

Promiscuous salamander found to use genes from three partners equally

Finding points to the inventive ways animals balance genetics and reproduction so their species will thrive

June 12, 2017

Summary: A study shows that a unique all-female lineage of salamander equally balances genes from the males of three other salamander species. The findings highlight the bizarre ways some animals reproduce in order to preserve their species.

A promiscuous salamander has found a simple genetic formula for success: Mate with multiple males and use equal parts of each partner’s genetic material in her offspring.

A University of Iowa-led team of biologists analyzed the genome of Ambystoma, a six-million-year-old salamander lineage that produces only female offspring. The team found most of its genetic profile is made up of equal contributions from males of three separate salamander species — Ambystoma laterale, Ambystoma texanum, and Ambystoma tigrinum.

The researchers think the all-female salamander’s balanced genome points to the bizarre ways some animals — from all-female populations of fish, lizards, and others — can use their genomes to maximize their chances of success.

“We’re hypothesizing the successful individuals have balanced gene expression,” says Maurine Neiman, associate professor in biology at the UI and an author on the paper, published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution. “This balance might have been a prerequisite for the emergence and continued success of this particular hybrid lineage.”

Sexual reproduction is dominant in the animal world. The unisexual Ambystoma salamander engages in sex, but with a slightly different purpose. When it mates, the female acquires the male’s genes and then keeps only some, discarding others. This is known as kleptogenesis, or the theft of genetic material from male donors for reproductive purposes.

The UI researchers wondered how choosy the unisexual female is about which genes it keeps and uses when mating with males from different sexual salamander species. Using a specimen from the lab of Ohio State University biologist and study co-author H. Lisle Gibbs, the team analyzed nearly 3,000 genes in a unisexual female with three genomes (called a triploid). Of that total, they found 72 percent of the genes provided by the three male partners were expressed equally.

In other words, the all-female salamander chose to use roughly the same number of genes from each salamander species.

“It’s mostly balanced. The three genomes are mostly being expressed equally in this hybrid,” says Kyle McElroy, a graduate student in Neiman’s lab and the paper’s corresponding author. “What we’d like to find out is how the choosing and using occurs, and how these genes from different sexual salamander species come together to make a successful hybrid.”

It could be a case of keeping things simple. McElroy likens it to a sports team having a roster of equally competent players, with no star athlete whose injury would cripple its success.

“If you have a team that’s unbalanced and loses a top player, you won’t win,” says McElroy, a fourth-year graduate student from St. Louis. “But if every player is equal, then you don’t lose as much.”

So, rather than the female salamander individually selecting genes from the thousands available to her — a complicated process — the salamander appears to have found a balanced ratio of genes from the males of the other three species that works for her, and has settled on that.

“It would be difficult to maintain without balance,” McElroy says, “and that may be the key to this hybrid’s success.”

Smooth newt swims, video


This 22 May 2017 video shows a smooth newt swimming.

Bregje Brinkmann made this video of her garden pond in the Netherlands.

Rare amphibian babies hatching in Slovenian cave


This video says about itself:

30 May 2016

Postojna Cave (Postojnska jama) in Slovenia – In January 2016 an extraordinary event has happened. The female olm (Proteus anguinus) has started laying eggs in the aquarium of the cave in front of visitors. After four months 24 embryos are developing well and already “practicing their dragon dance“. This is a funny video of baby dragon embryos rotating in their jellies – a few steps from hatching. But their destiny is still uncertain so please keep your fingers crossed.

See also here.

Great crested newts in the Netherlands


This 7 April 2016 Dutch video shows wildlife wardens Hanne and Richard, looking for great crested newts in the Netherlands.

New crested newt species discovered in Turkey: here.

Students save salamanders from death


This music video from the Netherlands is called Harry Sacksioni – De Paddentrek (Toad Migration).

Translated from Vroege Vogels radio in the Netherlands today:

Behind VHL college in Leeuwarden [in Friesland province] is a small river, the Potmarge. In early spring small amphibians there in the morning and the evening cross in order to reproduce. There, they cross the bike path on which they are often crushed by cyclists and scooter riders. Alumni Carlijn Lanrijssens and her classmate Tariq Stark sometimes found thirty killed smooth newts on the bike path. “We thought that really can not go on next to a green college. Moreover, it is unique that there is such a large population of newts so close to downtown,” said Carlijn.

Tariq and Carlijn took the initiative to rescue the animals. With the help of the municipality of Leeuwarden, two 130-meter fences were placed along the Potmarge. On both sides of them thirty buckets were buried. A group of students now twice a day bends over the buckets to free the salamanders and to transfer them safely. Sometimes they also find unfortunate frogs and toads. In each bucket is a stick or a twig. “In that way, mice can climb out.” Students register numbers and sex of the salamanders, to understand the size of the population.

Across the country with the help of volunteers last year more than 270,000 amphibians were transferred.

For some salamanders, finding a mate is a marathon. Treadmill, genetic tests show amphibians travel several kilometers to reproduce. By Laurel Hamers, 7:15pm, December 20, 2016: here.

Dutch great crested newts and World War II


This video from England says about itself:

24 July 2012

Juliet Hawkins, conservation adviser at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, introduces us to the elusive great crested newt. With information about the species, how to spot them and how Suffolk Wildlife Trust are helping to bring them back to Suffolk’s ponds.

Wars cause big damage to the environment and to wildlife.

However, sometimes some aspects of some wars have unintended beneficial side effects for some wildlife.

In 1942, the nazi German occupiers of the Netherlands built a military airbase near Havelte in Drenthe province. Allied warplanes bombed this base, resulting in thousands of bomb craters.

Many of these craters still exist today, now that the former military airport is a nature reserve. Some of them are filled with water: a good environment for the great crested newts living there now.

Good endangered salamander news from Guatemala


Long-limbed salamander

From Wildlife Extra:

Endangered salamander habitat saved in Guatemala

The last remaining forest home of two species of salamander, lost to science for nearly 40 years, has been saved following the completion of a land purchase supported by World Land Trust (WLT) and a consortium of funders.

The purchase of Finca San Isidro in the western highlands of Guatemala was finalised by WLT’s Guatemalan partner, Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO) in September 2015, following WLT’s donation towards the purchase earlier in 2015.

Among others, the species that are now protected are Finca Chiblac Salamander (Bradytriton silus), categorised by IUCN as Critically Endangered, and the Long-limbed Salamander (Nyctanolis pernix), categorised as Endangered.

High in Guatemala’s Cuchumatanes mountain range, the salamanders’ forest home had been slated for coffee production. Land clearance would have certainly gone ahead if it hadn’t been for the intervention of international funders.

FUNDAECO identified the importance of the property back in 2009. Finca San Isidro measures 2,280 acres (922.5 hectares) and of the total area, WLT funding has secured more than 800 acres (324 hectares). FUNDAECO will oversee the conservation management of the property.

“Thank you for the invaluable support we have received from World Land Trust in creating San Isidro Reserve, in the Western Highlands of Guatemala,” said Marco Cerezo, Director of FUNDAECO. “This important effort among research academics, local conservationists and organisations to fund the protection of unique ecosystems will help avoid the rapid degradation of this unique biological treasure and also assist the fight against poverty by supporting livelihoods for local communities.”