AF’s ambassador Frosted Flatwoods Salamander, Jackie Frosty, in the AF Amphibian Lab.
The Atlanta-based Amphibian Foundation won a Josh's Frogs 2023 Amphibian Conservation Grant for its ongoing work to save the imperilled Frosted Flatwoods Salamander, a species unique to North America. We did a virtual interview with Amphibian Foundation co-founders Mark and Crystal Mandica to learn more about this work.
How do you plan to use the grant money?
We plan to use the grant money to support the captive rearing and propagation of Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders, Ambystoma cingulatum. Flatwoods Salamanders are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act and are at imminent risk of extinction. The grant funds would go towards ensuring the optimal care for these sensitive amphibians by providing multiple food items and the supplies needed for their care.
One of the last remaining Longleaf Pine sites for Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders is located at Fort Stewart Army Base, Liberty County, Georgia. Photo credit: Amphibian Foundation
What does winning this grant allow you to do that you might not have otherwise?
Despite being listed under the Endangered Species Act, the federal government does not provide funds for the conservation of Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders, and winning this grant will help us continue to fight to save Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders.
When do you expect to see results from this? What are you hoping they look like?
We are in the middle of the Flatwoods Salamander breeding season and many of our salamanders are entering breeding condition. We are hoping to have several successful spawnings.
Early morning shot of a Frosted Flatwoods Salamander peeking through moss that was donated by Josh’s Frogs to support the project.
How will this impact amphibian conservation specific to this instance?
Two years ago, we successfully bred this species for the first time EVER! If we are successful again, this next group of offspring would be candidates for experimental release into the wild. For years we have been releasing healthy baby striped newts, Notophthalmus perstriatus, and Gopher frogs, Rana capito, but this would be our first chance to release baby Flatwoods Salamanders!
What are the larger implications of your work?
The Amphibian Foundation is working closely with United States Fish & Wildlife Service, United States Geological Survey, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and others to establish captive propagation colonies of Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders. We hope to breed this species again in the next year and produce more offspring which can then be released into properly managed habitat in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. We also provide an avenue for individuals to participate directly in Flatwoods conservation through our Conservation Research Bridge Program.
Photo credit: Amphibian Foundation
What message or information would you like to share with the reptile and amphibian pet community?
Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders have suffered a 90% loss in population since 2000, and are considered to be at imminent risk of extinction. Without swift intervention, this species will go extinct in the next 5-10 years. For the amphibian lovers out there, this species is facing a more dire extinction threat than any other amphibian in North America.
How would someone make a donation to your organization?
Donate to Amphibian Foundation's 2023 Annual Appeal here: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?campaign_id=4DGY986S3J42U
Become an Amphibian Foundation member here: https://amphibianfoundation.org/index.php/memberships
Where could someone learn more about your project?
Learn about the Frosted Flatwoods Salamander Conservation Breeding Working Group here: https://amphibianfoundation.org/index.php/fffscbwg
Anything else you feel we should know or discuss?
Although Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders are rarely seen, they are a beautiful species that deserve to be protected and saved. It is possible to bring this species back from the brink of extinction - we just need your help!
A larval Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) in situ at Fort Stewart Army base, the last site in the entire state of Georgia occupied by the species. AF Co-founder Mark Mandica stands in the background with partners.