My husband and I spent a cold but fascinating Sunday afternoon with Steve Brady and the two Kates ( NYU journalism students) down by the old roadside ponds, watching as Steve scooped up handfuls of glistening salamander eggs, nested in golden jelly, stained by the tannins that darkened the pond. Steve’s work caught my attention when I read his publication about tolerance to roadside conditions in salamanders which I wrote about earlier. And while the Kates were interested in the contemporary evolution story, it was the photogenic spotted salamanders, they confided, that had at first caught their attention (but don’t tell Steve). As interesting as the spotteds were, what was even more interesting, was the apparent lack of adaptation observed by Steve in wood frog populations inhabiting the same ponds (stay tuned for that one.) Why some populations adapt or evolve while others do not appear to do so is, I think, a key question. Unfortunately, I think there will be ample opportunity to observe evolution in response to how we are changing the world, from climate change to contaminants to water resources – as well as decline in those species which do not undergo such rapid evolution.
Evolution for a Sunday afternoon