I examine the Chinese language big salamander (Andrias davidianus), which is native to the Yangtze River Basin of central China. This specific species is critically endangered within the wild owing to habitat loss and overcatching — a specific drawback is their use in conventional Chinese language medication. My analysis focuses on the salamander’s conservation biology and evolutionary ecology.
On this picture, I’m releasing a Chinese language big salamander on the Golden Whip River in Zhangjiajie Nationwide Forest Park on an early morning in September 2021. My crew and I caught the salamander the night time earlier than, to measure its dimension and accumulate tissue samples for genetic analyses.
My curiosity in aquatic animals began as a toddler. I grew up in a rural village in Hunan province, and I keep in mind spending most of my childhood enjoying and fishing close to my house. Due to this, I knew the place every fish species lived in close by rivers and lakes, and it sparked my curiosity in river ecology.
I’m employed as an affiliate professor at Jishou College, the place I lead a crew devoted to researching this species of salamander. Wild salamanders are quiet, nocturnal animals that reside in distant areas. This makes finding out them difficult. My crew tried many artistic methods to trace down the animals, together with strolling alongside riverbanks with torches and photographing salamanders below water — however these methods didn’t work in addition to we wanted them to. We finally discovered that one of the best ways to lure wild salamanders is to make use of small reside fish and rooster livers as bait. The analysis is difficult, however we’ve learnt to be affected person and have a good time each small success we have now.
Finding out Chinese language big salamanders has additionally taught me an necessary life lesson: adapt to thrive. When meals is considerable, the salamanders develop quickly; when meals is scarce, they’ll go as much as 11 months with out feeding. In my private life and work, I’ve skilled successes and failures, and taking up that lesson has been helpful.