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    P2: Herpetology: General Herpetology

    2021-07-27   16:00 - 18:00

    To view the posters go to You will be able to chat one-on-one during the Tuesday poster session, the e-poster platform.

    1.  16:00  Dispersal and morphology in the Eastern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus: an evaluation of clade membership, sex, and age group. Teah Evers*, John Carroll University; Kelsey Garner*, John Carroll University; Ryan Mayer*, John Carroll University

    Dispersal is a fundamental aspect of an individual's ecology, and variation in dispersal can be explained by a suite of morphological or other traits that affect movement and orientation. For instance, variation in limb size can explain differential dispersal ability where longer limbs are associated with increased dispersal. We measured limb length of Eastern Red-backed Salamanders, Plethodon cinereus, to test the hypotheses that clade membership, sex, and age group predict differences in limb length and ultimately dispersal capability. The Northern Clade has an extensive geographic distribution and substantial dispersal from its ancestral origin, compared to the smaller, less dispersive clades within the species. We therefore predicted the Northern Clade would have longer limbs, and that adults and juveniles would show similar trends in limb length. Previous studies suggest male-biased dispersal in P. cinereus so we predicted males would have longer limbs compared to females. Indeed, we found that males had significantly longer front limbs than females, a result congruent with observed male-bias dispersal in the species. Consistent with our other prediction, we found that juveniles from the Northern Clade had longer limbs compared to juveniles from other clades. However, this result was not seen in adults. It is possible that limb length may function as an adaptive trait in which it plays an important role in adult behaviors other than dispersal, such as territoriality and reproduction. Further research is warranted to better understand the role that limb morphology plays in these behaviors.

    2.  16:00  Injury Distributions in Herpetofauna and How They Relate to Phylogeny. Caroline Honan*, Southeastern Louisiana University

    Reptiles gain injuries from a wide variety of sources, which may impact injury distribution. Groups of reptiles that are injured in similar ways may have similar injury placement. Also, if closely related taxa have similar life histories, they should encounter the same threats and have similar injury patterns. In this preliminary study, I looked at the injuries present in specimens from sixteen different species of Testudinae and Squamata. Injury locations were sectioned into left and right sections for the head, main body, front and back feet, and separate categories were created for the center of the head and body, and the tail. Data was entered into primer and run through a PCA and cluster analysis to look for any groupings present in injury distribution. After averaging data at the family and species level, I found that testudines clustered together whereas lizard injuries where more variable in distribution. This may indicate that turtles have less variety than lizards in how they accumulate their injuries, possibly because of their increased rates of intraspecific conflicts.

    3.  16:00  Effect of Dusky Gopher Frog Developmental Stage on Mortality Associated With Exposure to the Protist Parasite Dermomycoides sp. Jaime Smith*, Western Carolina University; Joseph H.K. Pechmann, Western Carolina University; Robin Overstreet, University of Southern Mississippi

    Dermomycoides sp. is a protist parasite thought to have caused several years of near-zero recruitment into a wild population of the endangered dusky gopher frog. Because of rapid decomposition and predation of morbid tadpoles, mortality events are often missed, even with the use of biweekly dipnet surveys. Understanding which developmental stages of gopher frog tadpoles are most susceptible to mortality associated with infection of Dermomycoides sp. is key to documenting these mortality events. We collected embryos from three different gopher frog egg clutches from the same pond. Four groups of 10 animals from each clutch, each representing a different developmental stage (egg, embryo, hatchling, and 2-weeks post-hatchling) were experimentally exposed to a solution containing approximately 50 protist zoospores/µL for 1 hour before being placed into 19-L aquaria. Additional groups from each clutch served as unexposed controls. Animals were checked daily, and morbid individuals were removed and preserved. Tadpoles exposed as hatchlings and 2-weeks post-hatching had significantly fewer days to mortality (17.3 days, p < 0.05, SE = 6.9; 16.4 days, p < 0.05, SE = 3.2, respectively) than all other developmental stages including the controls (≥ 30.1 days, SE = 7.7). Prior work by Atkinson (2016) and Cook (2008) showed that leopard frog tadpoles are less susceptible after developing toes. This implies that there may be a developmental window of heightened susceptibility between hatching from the egg mass and toe development. Targeting monitoring efforts for this developmental period may be the key to catching mass mortality events in the wild.

    4.  16:00  How Plants Affect Amphibian Populations. Angela Burrow*, University of Georgia; John Maerz, University of Georgia

    Descriptions of amphibian habitat, both aquatic and terrestrial, often include plants as characteristics but seldom is it understood whether and how those plants affect amphibian ecology. Understanding how plants affect amphibian populations is needed to develop strategies to combat declines in amphibian populations. Using a systematic approach, we reviewed and synthesized available literature on the effects of plants on pond-breeding amphibians throughout their aquatic and terrestrial lifecycle. Our review highlights that plant communities can strongly influence the distribution, abundance, and performance of amphibians in multiple direct and indirect ways. We found three broad themes of plants’ influence on amphibians: plants can affect amphibians through effects on abiotic conditions including the thermal, hydric, and chemical aspects of an amphibian environment, plants can have large effects on aquatic life stages through effects on resource quality and abundance, and plants can modify the nature and strength of interspecific interactions between amphibians and other species – notably predators. We synthesized insights gained from the literature to discuss the need for plant community management to conserve amphibians and to guide future research efforts. While some topical areas are well researched, we found a general lack of mechanistic and trait-based work which is needed to advance our understanding of the drivers through which plants influence amphibian ecology. Our literature review reveals the substantial role that plants play in amphibian ecology and the need for integrating plant and amphibian ecology to improve research and management outcomes for amphibians.

    5.  16:00  The effects of geographic variation and stream site characteristics on the skeletal development of the larval Southern two-lined salamander. Claire Crookston*, Southeastern Louisiana University

    The larvae of the Southern Two-lined salamander (Eurycea cirrigera)typically inhabit low order streams that are shaded by a canopy which allows litterfall to enter the system (Abelho, 2003). This source of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients is vital for the development of these larval salamanders who assimilate these resources into body structures like muscle and bone (Stephens et al., 2017). I expect to see a decrease in relative ossification of the skeleton due to resource limitation between stream types. I am collecting larval salamanders from four different streams in Louisiana and Mississippi with two being considered sterile and two being productive; I will collect data and larvae once per site per season. Environmental data will include area of leaf litter coverage in the stream, canopy cover, water temperature and presence of dissolved nutrients. These will be taken with a quadrat, densiometer, thermometer and water testing kit respectively. Larvae are taken back to the lab for clearing and staining (modified from Rose, 1999; Dingerkus and Uhler, 1977). They are visualized using a stereomicroscope. The salamanders have trunk length measured and the results of this study will take the form of a developmental series that outlines when cartilaginous elements become bone or when reabsorption takes place. The conclusions have yet to be realized, however, the findings will shed light on environmental factors that affect skeletal ossification during amphibian larval development with implications on habitat quality and a changing environment.

    6.  16:00  A New Anomalepidid Snake from the Northeast of South America. Camilo A. Linares Vargas*, Universidad del Valle; Wilmar Bolivar Garcia, Universidad del Valle; Alexandra Herrera Martinez, Sam Houston State Univeristy; Daniel Osorio Dominguez, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana; Oscar E. Ospina, Moffitt Cancer Center; Richard Thomas, University of Puerto Rico; Juan D. Daza, Sam Houston State Univeristy

    Liotyphlops is a genus of blindsnakes present in Central and South America. We reviewed specimens of Liotyphlops albirostris from throughout its current distribution range and, based on ecological niche modeling and morphological data using CT-scans, we propose that populations in the northern regions of South America are a separate species. We suggest the new species and L. albirostris are sister taxa currently isolated from each other by high rainfall and associated ecological conditions in the Chocó Darién Gap. The new species differs from L. albirostris in having a clear ocular scale and visible eye, differences in cephalic scale arrangements, that effectively reduces the previously reported variability of these scales in L. albirostris, and differences in coronoid and maxillary bones. We hope that the recognition of this new species will bring this taxon out of his cryptic status and eventually will be considered in future conservation efforts.

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