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Distribution and Status of the Common Mudpuppy Salamander (Necturus maculosus) in Ohio

The common mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) is a species of large-bodied, fully aquatic salamander that has declined across its range in recent decades. 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol (TFM) is a lampricide used to control the invasive sea lamprey and is considered responsible for large scale die offs of common mudpuppies in the Great Lakes region. The long-term consequences of these die offs for mudpuppy populations have been understudied and mudpuppy natural history is poorly understood due to historically low capture rates.  


My research aims to better understand the long-term population implications of TFM use. I am conducting a spatial capture-recapture (SCR) study of mudpuppies in a TFM unimpacted stream in central Ohio and a Cormack-Jolly-Seber (CJS) capture-recapture study in a TFM impacted stream in northeastern Ohio. SCR is a recently developed method that uses spatial information about capture location to provide estimates of abundance, density, dispersal, demography, home-range, habitat selection, landscape connectivity, survival, and recruitment. This will provide much needed natural history information for TFM-unimpacted mudpuppy populations in Ohio. Our CJS capture-recapture study will contribute to a long-term mark-recapture study of mudpuppies collected in northeastern Ohio since the 1990’s.  


I predict that impacted mudpuppy populations will have fewer individuals, proportionately more geriatric individuals, and have lower survival. If population trends continue to decline, current TFM application practices may not be compatible with healthy mudpuppy populations. Our results will be imperative to managers and aquatic biologists deciding best practices for TFM use with mudpuppy conservation in mind.   

Institution: Ohio State University

Lead Researcher: Ryan Wagner

PI: Bill Peterman

Technicians: John Buffington, Marnie Behan, Madie Stein

Collaborators: Tim Matson, Greg Orr, Greg Lipps

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