Solar ultraviolet radiation (UV) has received much attention as a factor that could play a role in amphibian population declines. UV can be hazardous to some amphibians, but the resultant effects depend on a variety of environmental and behavioral factors. In this study, the potential effects of UV on the Northwestern Salamander, Ambystoma gracile, from three lakes were assessed in the laboratory using a solar simulator. We measured the survival of embryos and the survival and growth of larvae exposed to four UV treatments in controlled laboratory studies, the UV absorbance of egg jelly, oviposition depths in the lakes, and UV absorbance in water samples from the three lakes. Hatching success of embryos decreased in the higher UV treatments as compared to the control treatments, and growth of surviving larvae was significantly reduced in the higher UVB irradiance treatments. The egg jelly exhibited a small peak of absorbance within the UVB range (290–320 nm). The magnitude of UV absorbance differed among egg jellies from the three lakes. Oviposition depths at the three sites averaged 1.10 m below the water surface. Approximately 66% of surface UVB radiation was attenuated at 10-cm depth in all three lakes. Results of this study indicate that larvae may be sensitive to UVB exposure under laboratory conditions; however, in field conditions the depths of egg deposition in the lakes, absorbance of UV radiation by the water column, and the potential for behavioral adjustments may mitigate severe effects of UV radiation.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4