Peter B. Mills
Organisms that defy traditional species-concept models are frustrating to classify and challenging to fit into conservation models. One of these such organisms are the group of salamanders known as "Unisexual Ambystoma", which freely add genetic material [by stealing packets of sperm they encounter in breeding aggregations] and discard genetic material [by meiotic reductional events] from five species of salamanders. These unisexual salamanders are all-female and thus must live alongside populations of these five reproductively traditional salamanders, the males from which they can use to pilfer sperm from. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has recently set a world-class example by offering these nebulous organisms federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
My objective is to identify how the Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale) and the Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) are distributed across the landscape. Both of these species provide sperm for sympatric unisexual salamanders, and these interactions have implications for Blue-spotted, Jefferson, and these nebulous unisexual salamanders alike.
I spent the summer season between 2008 and 2016 working for the MNRF in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park, which is where I fostered the backbone of my natural history background.
I authored and illustrated "Metamorphosis: Ontario's Amphibians at all Stages of Development", which was released in the spring of 2016. My aim with this work was to reveal the often-overlooked sexually immature life stages that precede almost all frogs, toads, and salamanders.