Thursday, January 9, 2014

Spatial Analysis of Habitat Change on the Salamanders of Barton Springs

Emily Pawelek and Brandee Knight, Environmental Studies Interdisciplinary Program

Eurycea sosorum and Eurycea waterlooensis are both salamander species endemic to the habitats in a cluster of springs along the Balcones Fault Zone, known as Barton Springs. E. sosorum is commonly known as the Barton Springs Salamander and E. waterlooensis is the Austin Blind Salamander. The springs are a result of water flowing through the Edwards Aquifer. E. sosorum is listed as endangered and E. waterlooensis is a candidate for endangered status. There are many threats to the species, including habitat loss due to changes in the natural flow of the springs, for either recreational or
commercial uses, and increasing withdrawal of groundwater from this segment of the Edwards Aquifer causing changes in the quantity and quality of the water in the springs. Abundance of these salamanders is varied within the Barton Springs area, as are the habitat sites within the springs. Using data on the species, we have explored correlations between the salamanders’ environment and its population numbers using spatial analysis tools.

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