Decision makers collaborate to address multiple threats to endemic salamander

Authors: Molly Bletz; Evan HC Grant
November 30, 2022

Salamanders in the US are at risk from the impending arrival of a novel chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal). In New Mexico, the state’s Department of Game and Fish and the US Forest Service are concerned about the risk this emerging pathogen poses to the state-threatened, endemic Sacramento Mountain salamander – Aneides hardii. Drought, warming temperatures, and increased risk of stand-replacing fires are a compounding and critical factors for the persistence of A. hardii populations. Wildlife disease problems are complex and require purposeful thinking and directed application of science to best optimize manger decision making. Since fall 2021, ARMI researchers E. Grant, M. Bletz have been leading a series of structured decision-making workshops with state, US Forest Service and Mescalero tribe decision makers and science experts in amphibian ecology and disease, including ARMI scientist E. Muths. They are working with this group to frame the problem, identify management objectives and possible management actions and to identify where and how science can reduce critical uncertainties pertinent to the manager’s decision to, in turn, identify the best course of action for the salamander threatened by disease and increased fire.

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