Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

Sex Distribution of Eastern Newts at Sandy Bottom
Lydia O’Fallon
Environmental Studies
Faculty Mentor(s):
Landon Ward
Abstract / Summary:
The focus of this study was on eastern newt sex distribution at Sandy Bottom wetlands in western North Carolina. We examined whether or not female newts could be found throughout their breeding season, or if there would be an observed period of time where only males would be found. The study took place at Sandy Bottom Wetlands in Buncombe County where the newts were caught and observed through means of dip-netting. During a previous study that also took place at Sandy Bottom and utilized dip-netting as the main method of data collection, it was observed that there was a period of time where only male eastern newts were being caught and female newts were not recorded as being in the vernal pools until a reappearance later on in the breeding season. This study aimed to see if there was a pattern in the sex distribution seen in the newts and identify whether female eastern newts were showing mate avoidance behavior. As part of the data collection, it was recorded where the newts were found in relation to the shore (noted as either near or far), as well as the length, sex, and whether females were gravid, and males had breeding tubercles. A Scheirer-Ray-Hare test was used on the data, looking at variables such as month and distance on the distribution variability of female and male newts. Our analysis showed that month and distance had no effect on where male newts were found in vernal pools, however female newts had a statistical significance when looking at month:distance variable. This could show that female newts were showing mate avoidance behavior and moving around the vernal pools to avoid groups of males.
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