To assess feasibility of reintroduction of extirpated spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) in restored flatwoods wetlands, hatching rates were monitored using pond enclosures. Ambystoma maculatum hatching success was compared to that of conspecifics in source ponds and to blue-spotted salamanders (Ambystoma laterale) that had persisted in restored ponds despite habitat degradation. Restored ephemeral ponds with hypoxic conditions had consistent hatching failure for A. maculatum. To isolate effects of dissolved oxygen (DO), laboratory gradients were used to identify levels of DO necessary for A. maculatum and A. laterale hatching success. DO treatments included 0, 2.0, 4.0, 5.0, 6.0, 7.0, and 8.0 mg/l for A. maculatum and 2.0, 4.0, and 6.0 mg/l for A. laterale. Ambystoma laterale hatched across all treatments. Ambystoma maculatum hatching was successful in treatments > 4.0 mg/l. Prescribed burns of dried ponds and selective girdling reduced leaf litter and increased in situ photosynthesis resulting in greater DO. Ambystoma laterale may have persisted in degraded ponds because of differences from A. maculatum in egg structure, and thus oxygen delivery. Land use changes contributing to hypoxia, including changes in forest composition and fire regime, may help explain the loss of A. maculatum from regional assemblages.
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Vol. 29 • No. 4