Distribution of tiger salamanders in northern Sonora, Mexico: comparison of sampling methods and possible implications for an endangered subspecies

Authors: Blake R Hossack; J A Lemos-Espinal; Brent H Sigafus; Erin Muths; A rr Carreon; M ar Toyos; F el Hurtado; P ad Molina; Caren S Goldberg; T R Jones,; M J Sredl,; Thierry C Chambert; James C Rorabaugh
Contribution Number: 701



Many aquatic species in the arid USA-Mexico borderlands region are imperiled, but limited information on
distributions and threats often hinders management. To provide information on the distribution of the Western Tiger
Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium), including the USA-federally endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma
mavortium stebbinsi), we used traditional (seines, dip-nets) and modern (environmental DNA [eDNA]) methods to sample
91 waterbodies in northern Sonora, Mexico, during 2015-2018. The endemic Sonoran Tiger Salamander is threatened by
introgressive hybridization and potential replacement by another sub-species of theWestern Tiger Salamander, the non-native
Barred Tiger Salamander (A. m. mavortium). Based on occupancy models that accounted for imperfect detection, eDNA
sampling provided a similar detection probability (0.82 [95% CI: 0.56-0.94]) as seining (0.83 [0.46-0.96]) and much higher
detection than dip-netting (0.09 [0.02-0.23]). Volume of water filtered had little effect on detection, possibly because turbid
sites had greater densities of salamanders. Salamanders were estimated to occur at 51 sites in 3 river drainages in Sonora.
These results indicate tiger salamanders are much more widespread in northern Sonora than previously documented, perhaps
aided by changes in land and water management practices. However, because the two subspecies of salamanders cannot be
reliably distinguished based on morphology or eDNA methods that are based on mitochondrial DNA, we are uncertain if we
detected only native genotypes or if we documented recent invasion of the area by the non-native sub-species. Thus, there is
an urgent need for methods to reliably distinguish the subspecies so managers can identify appropriate interventions.

Publication details
Published Date: 2021
Outlet/Publisher: Amphibia-Reptilia
Media Format: .PDF

ARMI Organizational Units:
Rocky Mountains, Northern - Biology
Southwest, Arizona - Biology
Management; Monitoring and Population Ecology; Species and their Ecology
Place Names:
amphibians; ARMI; detection; detection probability; distribution; filter; habitat; introduced species; invasives; management; occupancy; range limit; threatened species; water
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