My masters’ research will examine the effects of a potential new predator on an isolated population of Ambystoma found on Pelee Island, Lake Erie, Ontario. Among 3 species on the island is Ambystoma texanum, which is currently listed as endangered in Canada (SARA). An accurate estimate of the present small-mouth population size does not exist, however previous sampling demonstrated the population was relatively small. Wild turkey were recently introduced to the island, and the effect this has on salamander populations is not known. Turkey are opportunistic visual predators, and have been suggested to be potentially devastating to salamanders.
By deploying artificial stimuli in the field and measuring rates of attack I will determine if turkey predation is a significant threat to adult salamanders. Once an accurate small-mouth population size has been calculated, these findings can be applied to understand in more detail the major drivers of population size. The study system involves a predator-prey interaction which is not well understood. By manipulating model design used in field experiments the research will aim to answer some fundamental questions regarding salamanders and their predators. Specifically, does size and defensive posture affect the rate of attack by predators, and also, does a predators rate of attack change depending on time of season which prey are active.