“The Hidden Jewels of Appalachia” is a short film that uses compelling imagery to showcase Appalachia and raise awareness for declining Appalachian salamanders. The Appalachian region of the eastern United States features an ancient mountain chain that serves as the world’s epicenter for salamander biodiversity. These secretive creatures, ranging in size from two inches to more than two feet, are a keystone species at risk from a perfect storm of threats, including: development, climate change, mountaintop mining, invasive species, disease, transportation corridors, acid rain, pollution, and more. Learn what these declining “canaries in the coal mine” are telling us about the state of our environment.
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is working to become a leader in salamander conservation through innovative research looking at Plethodon species competition and climate change affecting the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiesis), as well as working to connect people to their local environment through public presentations, conducting field surveys and swabbing salamanders for disease. For more information, please find Appalachian salamanders on Facebook.
–Joe Milmoe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.