Kimberly M. Ogden, a Ph.D. student in the joint programs of Organismal & Evolutionary Biology and Wildlife & Fisheries Conservation, is interested in the ecology and conservation of rare and environmentally sensitive species. Kim is especially interested in reptiles and amphibians in human-dominated landscapes. Kim is currently studying the Four-toed Salamander, a small and cryptic species about which very little is known. These 2-4 inch long salamanders live in specialized habitats of wetlands with slow-moving shallow waters that have mossy hummocks for nesting. The Four-toed Salamander can be found from southern Canada to Florida and west into Minnesota, but since their habitat requirements are so specific, the distribution of the Four-toed Salamander is fairly patchy across its range. The Four-toed Salamander is a species of "Special Concern" in Massachusetts, which means that more information is needed in order to make a knowledgeable decision about its conservation status. Kim is looking at the habitat requirements and genetics of the Four-toed Salamander in order to understand how different landscapes might affect the population of Four-toed Salamanders in Massachusetts. Kim hopes that the ecology and genetics work that she does will be useful for determining how large the population size is as well as how important it might be to protect the Four-toed Salamander in Massachusetts.
For more information about rare species like the Four-toed Salamander in Massachusetts, visit the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program website.