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Mesa faculty member discovers new species of salamander in Arizona

(Maricopa Community College Photo)

PHOENIX — A faculty member at Mesa Community College has discovered a new species of salamander in Arizona, the school announced earlier this month.

Dr. Andrew Baldwin discovered the amphibian, known as Ensatina eschscholtzii klauberi or large-blotched Ensatinanear the Tonto Creek State Fish Hatchery in Payson in 2003.

It then took him 16 years to determine that someone had illegally brought the salamander, native to California but not Arizona, to the state 20 years ago.

Baldwin’s findings were published in the Herpetological Review in March by the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.

“The discovery was an important one as there is only one species of salamander native to Arizona, the tiger salamander, but it has always been suspected that there could, and should, be others due to suitable habitats that exist in the state,” Baldwin said in a press release.

“The salamander world is a small one, so word spread that I found this. They remained undiscovered all that time.”

The herpetologist said the salamanders would be nearly impossible to eradicate from the state at this point, and they don’t seem to be harming anything.

Baldwin has been teaching biology at MCC since 2003 and has been the chair of the life sciences department since 2011.

He has a doctorate in quantitative biology from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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