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INHS Seminar - Little Known Giant: Expanding knowledge on the life history of the threatened Japanese Giant Salamander

Event Type
Illinois Natural History Survey Seminar Committee
1005 Forbes Natural History Building, 1816 S Oak Street, Champaign
Mar 14, 2023   4:00 pm  
Dr. Mizuki Takahashi, Bucknell University
Zander Perelman
Originating Calendar
INHS Events

This seminar will be held in room 1005 Forbes Natural History Survey, 1816 S Oak Street, Champaign or you may join  Zoom here | Meeting ID: 875 6542 4461 | Password: 588949

There are five giant salamanders currently recognized within the Family Cryptobranchidae, all of which are species of special conservation concern. I have studied the Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) and the Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus a. alleganiensis) for the past decade. In this talk, I will introduce my work on parental care, male-male competition, and microhabitat use in the Japanese giant salamander. In all giant salamander species, a male provides prolonged parental care which starts even before spawning as a form of nest cleaning in late August. Then, a male remains in the nest with the embryos and performs a variety of parental tasks until the larvae disperse in the following spring. Males also fight fiercely for nesting sites that are highly limited in number, which often results in injuries and occasional deaths. I will discuss the injury rates and patterns among giant salamanders. Finally, our recent work using eDNA revealed that small adults, larvae, and juveniles inhabit small upstream tributaries that were traditionally considered too small for this species. A number of upstream tributaries are disconnected from the main stems because of dams. Our ongoing effort is to survey isolated tributaries by large hydroelectric dams. My true passion is to use scientific data to promote the conservation of this charismatic and ecologically important species. I will end the talk with the conservation issues surrounding the species including the construction of concrete banks and dams and the hybridization between the Japanese and Chinese giant salamanders. 

Dr. Mizuki Takahashi is an associate professor of biology and animal behavior at Bucknell University, Pennsylvania. He was born and grew up in Japan where he majored in forestry as an undergrad and a master’s student. Since he came to the US in his late 20s, he has studied ecology, evolution, and conservation of amphibians. His current research focuses on the interspecific competition of local amphibians and the conservation of the giant salamanders, hellbenders and the Japanese giant salamander. His recent works on giant salamanders include parental care and male-male competition as well as seasonal and spatial changes in eDNA concentrations to understand breeding patterns, migration, and microhabitat use.

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