Survival of Repatriated Striped Newts in the Apalachicola National Forest
The Munson Sandhills of the Apalachicola National Forest were considered a critical population stronghold of the striped newt (Notophthalmus perstriatus), but surveys since 2000 have indicated dramatic population declines. The specific reasons for decline are currently unknown but working hypotheses include drought, disease, fire ant predation, and habitat succession. Documented breeding ponds are undergoing habitat restoration, and a subset are augmented with artificial pond liners to extend their hydroperiod. The objective of this study is to determine survivorship of captive-bred striped newts as part of an ongoing repatriation program.
In this study, captive bred striped newts of various life stages are released into study ponds that have been fitted with an artificial pond liner and encircling drift fences. Striped newts are provided for release by partner zoos, who currently maintain three lineages sourced from the nearest populations in GA (1) and FL (2). Before release, each newt is marked using visible implant elastomer (VIE) tags injected beneath the skin. Recapture attempts are conducted within 48-hrs of initial release and once again monthly through the end of the breeding season (Jan-Aug). Pond-encircling drift fences are checked daily by partners at the Coastal Plains Institute to recapture newts during immigration/emigration.