JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — East Tennessee State University researchers have developed a device to measure environmental preferences of salamanders that live in southern Appalachia.
ETSU says plethodontid salamanders are threatened by climate change, shrinking habitats and fungal infections.
ETSU biomedical sciences doctoral student Trevor Chapman calls the salamanders a critical link in the local ecosystem. He says they're one of the most abundant vertebrate species, are eaten by most creatures that prey on small organisms, and they prey on almost any invertebrate or vertebrate they can fit in their mouths.
With the help of faculty, Chapman made a four-chambered device that varies temperatures, moisture levels and other factors to monitor behavior of salamanders within.
Chapman sets the chambers at different levels and sees over 24 hours which chamber the animal will stay in longest.