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 selected downside is their use in conventional Chinese language drugs. My analysis focuses on the salamander’s conservation biology and evolutionary ecology.
On this photograph, 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 group and I caught the salamander the evening earlier than, to measure its dimension and gather 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 bear in mind spending most of my childhood taking part in and fishing close to my residence. 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 group devoted to researching this species of salamander. Wild salamanders are quiet, nocturnal animals that dwell in distant areas. This makes finding out them difficult. My group 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 would have liked them to. We ultimately discovered that the easiest way to entice wild salamanders is to make use of small dwell fish and rooster livers as bait. The analysis is difficult, however we’ve learnt to be affected person and rejoice each small success we now have.
Learning Chinese language big salamanders has additionally taught me an vital life lesson: adapt to thrive. When meals is considerable, the salamanders develop quickly; when meals is scarce, they will 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.