I research the Chinese language big salamander (Andrias davidianus), which is native to the Yangtze River Basin of central China. This explicit species is critically endangered within the wild owing to habitat loss and overcatching — a selected drawback is their use in conventional Chinese language drugs. 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 workforce and I caught the salamander the evening earlier than, to measure its dimension and accumulate tissue samples for genetic analyses.
My curiosity in aquatic animals began as a baby. 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 workforce devoted to researching this species of salamander. Wild salamanders are quiet, nocturnal animals that reside in distant areas. This makes learning them difficult. My workforce tried many inventive methods to trace down the animals, together with strolling alongside riverbanks with torches and photographing salamanders beneath water — however these strategies didn’t work in addition to we would have liked them to. We finally discovered that the easiest way to lure wild salamanders is to make use of small reside fish and hen livers as bait. The analysis is difficult, however we’ve learnt to be affected person and have fun each small success we now have.
Learning Chinese language big salamanders has additionally taught me an essential 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 over that lesson has been helpful.