VIDEO: No exit: How humans are changing salamanders

An afternoon with evolutionary ecologist Steve Brady

May 8, 2012
Just a spotted salamander couple. No big deal. Image Credit:

The seasonal pools where amphibians develop are like wombs, says Yale University graduate student Steve Brady. While we grow up safe inside our mothers, amphibian eggs develop at the mercy of whatever chemicals we happen to throw into our water. “There‚Äôs good reasons why pregnant women are advised not to smoke and drink,” he said. “I tend to think about it the same way, where roadside pools might be an analogy to smoking and drinking.”

Every winter, road salt flows into pools of water throughout the Northeast. Brady studies the effects of the salt on developing salamanders. He recently published a scientific paper showing that spotted salamanders in Connecticut may actually be evolving to better tolerate contaminants in their roadside homes.

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