Friends of the Cawthra Bush
Greater Mississauga Area
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COLLEGE OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE
Department of Zoology
September 19, 1997
Re: Cawthra Bush Salamanders
Upon visiting the Woods on 21 August, it was immediately apparent that this was great habitat for mole salamanders (family Ambistomatidae). Ambystomatid salamanders generally need mature stands of hardwood forest with small but permanent ponds to breed in. Of the three commonly found species in Ontario, the Jefferson Salamander seems to be the most localized species in terms of distribution. That is, it occurs throughout Southern Ontario in small localized Populations. The one pond that was sampled had a very dense population of salamander larvae in it. Eight specimens were collected; one transformed individual and 7 still in the larval stage. The larval salamanders were raised in Guelph until transformation. All but one of the salamanders have transformed and are presently in our care here at Guelph.
We have information about the specimen that was transformed when we collected it. Electrophoretic analysis revealed that this salamander was a triploid hybrid which means that it has three sets of chromosomes from two different species. This particular hybrid has one set of chromosomes from a Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) and two sets of chromosomes from a Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum). The presence of this hybrid tells us that there are Jefferson Salamanders in the woods because the extra set of Jefferson chromosomes had to come from a male Jefferson Salamander. Analysis of the other specimens may reveal a Jefferson Salamander among the group; however, as stated above we do not have to find a Jefferson to know that they are there.
We will be analyzing the other specimens within the next couple of weeks and you will be informed of the results immediately. If you have any further questions regarding this analysis feel free to contact us at Guelph.
James P. Bogart, PhD; Joshua V. Feltham, B.Sc
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