Thursday, February 23, 2012

Evolving with Toxins

Spotted salamander- Steven Brady, Yale
Fellow Master Naturalist Bob Korpella regularly writes about nature in the Ozarks in his Freshare.net site.  One of his stories gives us hope that evolution moves faster than we thought.  As we foul the environment, at least some species are evolving to adapt.

Steven Brady of Yale* studied spotted salamanders living in roadside ponds that get wash off from the roads.  They contained concentrations of salt up to 70 times more than nearby ponds away from the roads.  A salamander's skin has several specialized features including secreting mucus which allow it to control its salt balance when in the water.

The road side salamanders have a higher level of deformities and a lower survival rate of their eggs.  Those that survive year after year are apparently evolving by natural selection to tolerate the conditions.  “The animals that come from roadside ponds actually do better—substantially better—than the ones that originate from woodland ponds when they’re raised together,” Brady said.

There must be something to the saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Read more in his story Road Runoff Spurring Spotted Salamander Evolution.
 *  Yale School Forestry & Environmental Studies 

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Now for a quiz- Animal or Plant?  What is it?  (The answer is coming to this blog soon)

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