WHY SALAMANDERS MATTER
Raising awareness about the issues that cause population declines in salamanders is important as these creatures are very beneficial to the environment, and to humans.
Salamanders are extremely valuable components to natural Eco-systems. Salamanders are often found in both tropical and temperate forests. Here they are components to the natural communities that help keep rainforests and woodlands healthy. This is important as both large quantities of oxygen and medicines (derived from plants) come from such habitats, and these are both crucial to human beings.
Salamanders are essential to keeping insect and arthropod populations in balance. Salamanders prey heavily on such species. This is a valuable service to humans as salamanders act as a natural form of ''pest control.'' This includes consuming ticks and mosquitoes. Such species can not only be bothersome to humans, but their bites can cause serious health issues. Both ticks and mosquitoes spread a variety of illnesses through their bites. By preying heavily on such species salamanders help minimize both bites and the spread of disease. Tiger Salamanders (genus Ambystoma) and Pacific Giant Salamanders (genus Dicamptodon) take the pest control role a step further as they prey on rodents. Like ticks and mosquitoes, rodents can also spread diseases. They are also a significant cause of house fire, from chewing on wires within walls and attics. Many insects also destroy crops, affecting gardens, food supplies, and industries. Salamanders are helpful as they prey on a wide variety of insects and can help minimize crop damage.
By preying heavily on invertebrates, salamanders are also helping to reduce the impacts of global warming. According to ScienceCodex.com, global warming occurs when greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. Salamanders help capture of this carbon before it is released by feeding on invertebrates (beetles, earthworms, snails, ants, etc.) that would otherwise release carbon through the consumption of fallen leaves and other forest debris. Woodland salamanders are the most common vertebrate species in American forests; consequently, these small, seldom-seen animals may play a significant role in regulating the capture of carbon from leaf litter in forest soils. Dr. Hartwell Welsh, Jr., research wildlife biologist at the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), helped conduct a study in Northwestern Calif. that examined how woodland salamander predation on invertebrates indirectly affects the amount of leaf litter retained for soil-building where nutrients and carbon are captured at the litter-soil interface.
Due to their secretive lifestyles there is much about salamanders that is still not known. Aspects of the biology, ecology, and lifestyles of many species is a mystery. This means salamanders could be providing many more benefits that scientists are simply unaware of. This alone makes the conservation of salamanders extremely important. It also warrants the abolishment of trades, industries and practices that harm salamanders or contribute to their population declines.
Aside from the benefits that they provide to the environment and to humans, salamanders are above all else extremely intrinsically valuable. Their lives are meaningful and important independent of their usefulness to humans.