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Wednesday, April 22 • 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Eastern Hellbender Or Ozark Hellbender? DNA Sampling To Determine A Salamander’s Identity

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There has been a rapid decline in populations of the Eastern hellbender salamander and the endangered subspecies, the Ozark salamander, due to a highly infectious fungal disease caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service currently considers the Eastern hellbender a species of concern, while the Ozark subspecies was federally listed as endangered in 2011. Declining populations of both species have prompted conservation efforts throughout the hellbender’s range in the Eastern United States, from Arkansas to New York. The Western North Carolina Nature Center (WNCNC) believe that they have an Eastern hellbender salamander in their care. However, WNCNC requested genetic testing to confirm that it is an Eastern hellbender and eliminate the possibility that it is the endangered Ozark hellbender subspecies. If the salamander is found to be an Ozark hellbender instead of an Eastern hellbender, then a special permit to house an endangered species will be required. To determine the subspecies of the WNCNC hellbender, a thick mucosal excretion sample was collected from the organism and DNA was extracted using the DNeasy Tissue and Blood Kit. The extracted DNA was then amplified at the cytochrome B region of mitochondrial DNA, and the resulting PCR product was sequenced. Results were compared with known DNA sequences from both hellbender subspecies to rectify uncertainty over the salamander’s identity. This species classification is essential for the proper care of the specimen and to ensure that the correct animal curation paperwork is on file.

Wednesday April 22, 2015 1:00pm - 1:20pm PDT
014 Zeis Hall

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