If the television show Unlikely Animal Friends were to film an episode at the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project, they would have no trouble identifying symbiotic animal relationships all over the Southern Alameda Creek Watershed. Our personal favorites are ground squirrels and the threatened California Tiger Salamander.
Tiger Salamanders live underground in the burrows of other animals, quite often the burrows of ground squirrels. When the rains come to the watershed, the California Tiger Salamanders leave their burrows and make a beeline for a nearby pond where they can meet a mate and lay eggs.
Problem is, there is a large dam construction project in the way. Our biologists placed tubs at strategic locations around the site. As they walk the perimeter of the project on a daily basis, they take the captured salamanders and relocate them to pre-designated places offsite.
They often make sure to stick the Tiger Salamanders into ground squirrel burrows that are stable. The ground squirrels do not seem to mind their amphibious neighbors, and provide the added benefit of digging out the tunnel should it collapse. Otherwise the salamanders would be trapped by cave-ins and might perish. Who knew?
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