Uncovering a species' past to inform its future

While planning the dissertation work that would ultimately consume the next 6.5 years of my life in graduate school, I learned an intriguing bit of information about the native amphibians of southern California. I was familiar with all of the amphibian species I could find in different habitats in the region, and was surprised to learn that a species—one I had never heard of—was missing, and had been for almost 40 years.

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Saving Salamanders

Conservation biology has long been held as a crisis discipline. We work hard for modest gains, and setbacks are the norm. But every once in awhile, evidence that blood, sweat, and tears expended for the perpetuation of Earth’s biodiversity effects positive change, and that is worth celebrating.

From 2008 to 2015, I worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During my last year with the agency, and because of my dissertation research on amphibian disease and my years of regulatory experience with an endangered salamander species, I was asked to join a team of agency scientists to write a Lacey Act rule that would list certain salamander species as injurious.

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