Die off has been on going for two decades as more and more amphibians fall victim to human negligence. In the last few years alarmed at this conditions, communities and interested groups have begun to ban together to gather data and act to take care of Mother Nature, her creatures and themselves.
Endangered Jollyville Plateau salamanders (Eurycea tonkawae) are not too jolly these days. The adults and young live in the stream outflows near urban development. After a die off was observed in 2001, the dead animals were analyzed and the deaths are thought to be caused by high nitrate levels. The dead animals with spinal deformities occurred at one site where nitrate levels were particularly high. Parasites. Analyses of dead salamanders also found encysted metazoan parasites in ova, pancreas, gut, and skeletal muscle. One individual had nematode parasites in the intestine.
The City of Austin is conducting comprehensive studies of spring populations in the Jollyville Plateau region and formulating policies for protection of this species. This work involves detailed analyses of habitat and water quality parameters and their relationship to salamander distribution and abundance. Preliminary results indicate an inverse correlation between the degree of urbanization and salamander abundance at spring outflows.
Excerpts from Jollyville Plateau Salamander Austin Water Utility Balcones Canyonlands Preserve
Eurycea tonkawae Chippindale, Price, Wiens and Hillis, 2000