2023 126 ENV

Building a Case Criteria for Newt Mass Die-off Events

By: Bria Boose

Department: Biology

Faculty Advisors: Dr. Vance Vredenburg, Dr. Andy Zink 

Western newts (genus Taricha) include four species endemic to the West coast. There have been multiple reported die offs of populations of Taricha both in California and Washington, but it is not understood what led to this mass mortality. To better understand the reason these populations are experiencing die off events we investigated disease dynamics of populations in Point Reyes National Park (Marin County, California) and populations at Pine Lake (Washington). We also surveyed local biologists and scientists in the Bay Area to find more populations of newts exhibiting similar symptoms. With these data we built a case criteria for sick and dying newts to help other scientists identify and diagnose these mass die off events. Many amphibian species are in drastic decline from disease and loss of habitat. Being able to identify these mass mortality events and gather data on possible emerging diseases in Amphibian communities is vital to conservation efforts.