Impact of salinization on New Jersey amphibian species: A physiological approach to water quality issues

Project Details


Salinization of freshwater habitats due to contamination by road deicers or saltwater intrusion can have serious impacts on aquatic ecosystems; amphibians, due to their permeable skins, may be especially vulnerable. Associations between elevated salinity and reduced amphibian species diversity have been established, but the proximate causes of the relationship have not been thoroughly evaluated. Possible causes include direct mortality of adults, eggs or larvae, or avoidance of unsuitable habitat by adults. This study will use a conservation physiology approach to water quality, integrating behavioral and physiological responses of adult amphibians to elevated levels of salts (NaCl and other commonly used road deicers), measurements of environmental salinity in amphibian habitats, and monitoring of breeding attempts by amphibians in those habitats. I expect to find greater behavioral aversion to increased salinity in more aquatic species compared to more terrestrial species, which generally have higher tolerance for dehydration. However, because adults of terrestrial species may be less likely to avoid higher salinity habitats, I predict a higher rate of breeding failure in these species. Lab-based assays of behavioral aversion in a focal group of NJ amphibian species will be integrated with field-based monitoring of habitat salinity and breeding behaviors. Results from this project will be published in peer-reviewed journals and used as preliminary data to support applications for additional funding.
Effective start/end date1/03/1028/02/11


  • U.S. Geological Survey: $18,919.00


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