In honor of the resubmission of my Master's manuscript, today's amphibian o' the day is none other than the Long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum). My research stemmed off of some really interesting, yet anecdotal, natural history observations of this species.
But first, let's recap -- Because of extensive work by the Blaustein Lab on UV-B radiation and amphibians' physiological defenses (e.g. photolyase enzyme), we know that this species is both extremely sensitive to UV-B yet has minimal physiological defenses to curtail it's affects. That's where I came in! If this was true, how on earth does this species exist at some of the highest elevations, and consequently highest UV-B radiation levels, in the Cascade Mountains? My spidey-senses were tingling.
So I conducted a two part field study that compared oviposition behavior during the summer (high elevation) and winter (low elevation) breeding seasons to quantify the aforementioned anecdotal evidence that long-toed salamanders lay their eggs beneath UV-B protective substrates at high elevations. Additionally, I updated some of the lab methods from Blaustein et al.'s work from the 90's on photolyase activity in amphibians and, much to my dismay, donned a lab coat to see if there were population differences across elevations. What I found....which you should read about in my paper soon!...is that the extensive behavioral modifications of this species have essentially negated the need for an increased physiological response to UV-B.
Here's a picture I took of the eggs attached to the underside of a rock at one of the high elevation breeding sites.