School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

Document Type


Publication Date



The Black-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus meridionalis) is a chronically understudied salamander species, with many aspects of its natural history, ecology, and distribution poorly known. Previous studies using traditional methodologies have had limited success documenting N. meridionalis on the landscape, detecting individuals at 6% (7 of 114) and 1% (2 of 221) of sites surveyed. A novel environmental DNA (eDNA) assay was designed and implemented with the goals of assessing the current distribution of N. meridionalis across south Texas, USA, and better understanding the conditions for positive eDNA detections. We conducted eDNA sampling and traditional surveys at 80 sites throughout south Texas. Notophthalmus meridionalis was detected at 12 localities in total: four localities using eDNA surveys, four localities using traditional methods, and four localities with both methodologies. eDNA detections were obtained from five counties, including one where N. meridionalis has never been reported and another where N. meridionalis has not been observed since the 1930s. eDNA detections were obtained in all four seasons, generally following moderate to heavy rainfall events. Our results support the increased use of eDNA surveys to detect rare and cryptic amphibians and to better understand the current distribution of this imperiled species.


Original published version available at

Publication Title

Global Ecology and Conservation





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.