Kris Hoffmann

In Maine, most of the information we use to manage vernal pools comes from studies on wood frogs and spotted salamanders. We know little about the third amphibian indicator species, the blue-spotted salamander, and even less about a fourth lineage of amphibian, the unisexual salamander. The latter is an all-female, “hybrid” lineage that does not meet the traditional definition of a species. Unisexuals are different from other Maine amphibians in that they:

-Bear the DNA of both blue-spotted salamanders and Jefferson salamanders

-Are polyploid, meaning they have either 3 or 4 copies of each chromosome

-Must take sperm from a different species to stimulate their eggs to develop

Kris is working to fill in some of the holes in our knowledge of these 2 salamanders. Through a combination of traps, radio telemetry, and genetic work, she has set out to learn about the breeding ecology and habitat selection of blue-spotted salamanders and unisexual salamanders in Maine. Only once we have a background understanding of the complex can we begin to develop ways to conserve both salamanders for future generations.

About Us

Understanding the vital connections between landowner concerns, municipal planning, conservation activities, and the ecology of vernal pools will be the focus of natural and social scientists from the University of Maine, Clark University, and Bowdoin College as they embark on a multi-year research project concerning Maine’s small natural features—vernal pools.

Our work is supported by: