The Relationship between Sex Ratio and Population Density of the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) and its Effect on Conservation

Macey Lee Purdue University West Lafayette
Faculty Sponsor(s): Rod Williams Purdue University West Lafayette
The Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) is a threatened species of salamander endemic to the United States. Population declines of this species over the past 25 years despite conservation efforts presents a problem. A common conservation management strategy is reintroductions. An important part in most reintroduction programs is knowing the sex of the animals intended for release. Hellbenders are monomorphic for their first seven years of life, and even when they reach sexual maturity males only display swollen cloacae for one month out of the year. For this reason, it is practical to use genetic markers to determine sex. This study collects data on the sex of 365 Hellbenders currently in captivity for Dr. William’s research lab’s reintroduction program. The data on the sex of the hellbenders will be used to determine if there are differences in sex ratios across three different Hellbender populations (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky). Another goal of this study is to investigate if Hellbender populations have a 1:1 sex ratio across three different populations and densities (Indiana – lowest density, Ohio – medium density, Kentucky – highest density). This data will be used to ensure the success of future Hellbender releases by knowing the sexes of the animals being released. By knowing the sexes of the animals being released, reintroductions can be skewed to favor a certain sex ratio potentially making population growth more positive. Knowing if there is a relationship between sex ratio and population density can also aid in reintroduction efforts.
Sustainability, Urban Ecology & Environmental Studies
Oral Presentation

When & Where

09:15 AM
Pharmacy & Health Sciences 212