TitleElevational differences in trait response to UV-B radiation by long-toed salamander populations.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsThurman LL, Garcia TS, Hoffman PD
Date Published2014 Jul
Altitude, Animals, Behavior, Animal, Deoxyribodipyrimidine Photo-Lyase, DNA Damage, Ecosystem, Female, Oviposition, Stress, Physiological, Ultraviolet Rays, Urodela

Amphibian species capable of optimizing trait response to environmental stressors may develop complex strategies for defending against rapid environmental change. Trait responses may differ between populations, particularly if stressor strength varies across spatial or temporal gradients. Ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation is one such stressor that poses a significant threat to amphibian species. We examined the ability of long-toed salamanders (Ambystoma macrodactylum) at high- and low-elevation breeding sites to cooperatively employ behavioral and physiological trait responses to mediate UV-B damage. We performed a microhabitat survey to examine differences in oviposition behavior and UV-B conditions among breeding populations at high- (n = 3; >1,500 m) and low-elevation (n = 3; <100 m) sites. We found significant differences in oviposition behavior across populations, with females at high-elevation sites selecting oviposition substrates in UV-B protected microhabitats. We also collected eggs (n = 633) from each of the breeding sites for analysis of photolyase activity, a photoreactivating enzyme that repairs UV-B damage to the DNA, using a photoproduct immunoassay. Our results revealed no significant differences in photolyase activity between long-toed salamander populations at high and low elevations. For high-elevation salamander populations, relatively low physiological repair capabilities in embryos appear to be buffered by extensive behavioral modifications to reduce UV-B exposure and standardize developmental temperatures. This study provides valuable insight into environmental stress responses via the assessment of multiple traits in allowing sensitive species to persist in rapidly changing landscapes.

Alternate JournalOecologia
PubMed ID24833287