Riparian Biodiversity

Riparian Biodiversity Research

Virginia Working Landscapes is participating in ongoing research on wood turtle and salamander populations in northern Virginia.

Wood turtles are a threatened species in most of their range, including northern Virginia. Populations are believed to be declining in Virginia, and Smithsonian researchers are attempting to determine the status of the population in Virginia, as well as other important research such as movement ecology.

As the most abundant vertebrates in eastern North American forests, salamanders provide the link that connects the aquatic and terrestrial habitats, and provide the flow of nutrients throughout the food web. Salamanders are also very sensitive to pollution and therefore provide excellent indicator species for environment health.

Landowner cooperation and concern is major factor in the Smithsonian research as well as in conservation of these species.


 

 

 

Wood Turtles are a threatened species in most of their range, including Northern Virginia. Populations are believed to be declining in Virginia and Smithsonian researchers are attempting to determine the exact state of the population.

The range of wood turtles has been shifting northward, and their abundance in Virginia appears to be declining. Conservationists feel there are two primary reasons for this decline – poaching of animals for the pet trade and habitat decline. In the commonwealth, populations are becoming limited to the western portion of the state due to development and urbanization in the east.

Salamanders, like all amphibians, are highly sensitive to pollutants in the environment. All amphibians have semi-permeable skin, which allows for water, oxygen, and pollutants to flow in and out of their bodies. This skin of theirs is what makes them so delicate, relative to other organisms, and makes them such a good indicator of environmental health.

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Virginia Working Landscapes
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
 
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540.635.0038