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Three species of Siren larvae by Pierson Hill

Hatchling larvae (clockwise from top left: Greater Siren, Slender Dwarf Siren, and Lesser Siren)

Sirens are a secretive group of entirely aquatic salamanders found within the swamps and streams of North America. Resembling eels, sirens have two front legs (and that’s it) and big bushy gills. Because this group of animals is secretive, for many years, scientists only recognized two species, the Greater and Lesser Siren. However, recent research has revealed additional species in the southeastern United States, including the Reticulated Siren and the Seepage Siren. But, despite these advances, it is likely there is still much to learn about sirens, and how they are related to each other. We are currently conducting large-scale genetics analyses to construct the evolutionary tree for these animals. This work will likely help us identify additional (yet currently unrecognized) species that can be found within Florida’s wetlands, and whether any are in need of special protections.

This project started in 2019. Stay tuned to learn what we find!