ENV1001 Seminar: Salamander tales (tails?) -- From conservation science to carnivorous plants with Patrick Moldowan

When and Where

Wednesday, March 09, 2022 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm


Patrick Moldowan


About the Seminar

Amphibians perform numerous ecological roles—as predators and prey, as connectors of energy flow between aquatic and terrestrial landscapes, and as sizable contributors to vertebrate biomass—in wetland and forest ecosystems. Amphibians are also modern “canaries in the coal mine”, serving as a barometer for assessing environmental health. Their persistence is uncertain in the face a host of threats, with climate change being one of the most complex and poorly understood. In general, amphibians—especially high latitude, mid latitude, and northern range edge populations—are expected to respond strongly to climate change due to their specific reproductive requirements, complex life histories, and often short breeding period. Addressing knowledge gaps about species biology and threats at a time of rapid environmental change requires long-term datasets. Global salamander diversity peaks in eastern North America. The Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is a widespread species in this region and has been the subject of thorough ecological, life history, and population study in southerly areas of its range. Spotted Salamander life history and reproductive and population biology has been studied since 2008 near their northern climatic range edge in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario. The long-term aims of this project are to monitor population vital rates and assess the effects of climate (change) on the health of salamander populations in an otherwise pristine environment. This presentation is a synthesis of the long-term study to date with specific focus on how the environment influences and is influenced by salamanders. We'll dabble in the fascinating natural history of these unassuming amphibians and unexpected aspects of their ecology. Come for the carnivorous plants and stay for the salamanders!

About the Speaker

Patrick is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and School of the Environment at the University of Toronto. For his dissertation, he is studying the ecology and sensitivity to environmental change of salamanders. Based at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station in Algonquin Provincial Park, his research leverages long-term amphibian and turtle studies to pursue an array of eclectic research projects at the intersection of natural history, herpetology, conservation science, and evolutionary ecology. Patrick was a recipient of the prestigious New Noah Scholarship from Wildlife Preservation Canada, an award recognizing young leaders in conservation. When not out in the field, Patrick is typically daydreaming about his next field project, canoeing, or dining on fine curries.

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