Mudpuppy Sample Map

My terrific collaborators at Herpetological Resource and Management put together this map of the Mudpuppy samples we have acquired so far from the Huron-Erie Corridor (St. Clair-Detroit River System) here in SE Michigan. Each yellow dot represents a capture record, for which we have a tissue sample. We never could have done this on our own, and owe a huge debt of gratitude to biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Belle Isle Aquarium for their assistance!

mudpuppy capture locations through 2015This is going to be an amazing dataset to look at gene flow among the lake and river systems, and to see whether things like surrounding landscape (and contaminant input) may be fragmenting populations. We also have a set of historic samples from the Detroit River, so we can see how effective population size has changed over time.

We’ve also made some terrific progress on the restoration side of the project, placing these structures at a number of sites to improve Mudpuppy habitat. They seem to work just as well in real life as they do in the adorable schematic drawing below. In fact, we’ve found Mudpuppies using these structures in as little as 48 hours after placement. Very exciting to be learning more about how to conserve these remarkable animals!

(Photos courtesy of HRM; artwork by Tricia Brockman)


State of the Strait

There was a neat event yesterday here at EMU – the State of the Strait, a biennial conference with the goal of coordinating conservation action along the St. Clair-Detroit River System (a.k.a. SCDRS, a.k.a. the Huron-Erie Corridor, a.k.a. the focal region for our ongoing Mudpuppy work). I attended part of the meeting, in between teaching two classes. My collaborator on the Mudpuppy project, Dave Mifsud, was able to stay for the entire event. There were some terrific talks and a lot of extremely valuable networking – thanks to the organizers for putting together such a terrific meeting! It is really exciting to know there are so many organizations and agencies collaborating for the improvement of our local environment.

We presented a poster that is a broad overview of the Mudpuppy project, describing the goals of both the restoration and research efforts. Here is the pdf if you’d like to take a look!

State of the Strait_Mudpuppy Project