There’s good news for America’s largest salamander, which makes its home in the Delmarva bays of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The tiger salamander, which is critically endangered in Maryland, has dramatically increased its reproducing population this year.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conducts spring surveys by counting egg mass at the amphibian’s preferred wetlands.
Eastern tiger salamanders can grow up to a foot long. The striking animal is found only on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, according to the Maryland Biodiversity Project, breeding in wetlands that flood seasonally and dry out in late summer. Many of these wetlands have been altered by development, costing the tiger salamander its habitat. Historically, Anne Arundel and Charles counties also had populations of these salamanders.
DNR says biologists have been working to restore both public and private land by bringing back the water and vegetation to their natural conditions.
Next, restoration teams will focus on restoring bays that will “create ecological stepping stones connecting known tiger salamander breeding ponds.”
“It’s great to see them having such a great year,” biologist Beth Schlimm said. “They are really responding well to their restored habitat. If they keep this up, one day we hope to declare them recovered and take them off the endangered species list.”
–Meg Walburn Viviano