Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Iowa
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Bartelt, P.E., A.T. Devries, and R.W. Klaver. 2023. Response of tiger salamanders (Ambystoma t. tigrinum) to wetland restoration on a Midwestern agricultural landscape, U.S.A. Ichthyology and Herpetology 111:571-583.


Since the early 1990s, > 3,000 ha of wetlands (and adjacent prairie) have been restored on the row-crop agricultural landscape of Winnebago County, Iowa, U.S.A. From 2014–2016, we surveyed 45 wetlands among 19 easements for occupancy by Eastern Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum tigrinum) and used radio-telemetry to measure their patterns of movement and habitat use. Rates of occupancy increased with wetland age, from < 25% for wetlands 1–2years old to ∼75% for wetlands > 11 years old. A two-year survey (2014 and 2015) of ten wetlands restored in 2013showed that nine were occupied after two years; we did not find a relationship between distance to the nearest salamander population and occupancy of newly restored wetlands by salamanders. We tracked 30 salamanders after they left their breeding wetlands for an average of 69637 d (range 5 14–109 d) and relocated them a total of 393 times. Typically, once a salamander left its breeding wetland, it traveled 50–350 m over several days, found a suitable burrow, then remained for much of the rest of the season. Mean daily distances traveled by salamanders were 7.965.6 m(range 5 0–135 m); the range of maximum straight-line distances moved was 26–659 m; only one individual salamander traveled in a statistically linear path, relative to a random walk. While ∼90% of the landscape was composed of row-crop fields, salamanders used protective grassy habitats (e.g., restored prairie, road ditches) on ∼88% of our observations. Only three salamanders used row-crop fields, and two of them were killed by heavy equipment. Regardless of the terrestrial habitat types used by salamanders, we found them underground on 336 (84.8%) of our observations.