Facebook post by University of Helsinki

Are browner waters affecting Smooth newts? Put on rubber boots and mosquito repellent to paddle in Evo’s wetlands with Clarisse & Basile. Smooth newts spend part of their life in wetlands. Being sensitive to environmental changes, they’re good indicators of the health of these ecosystems. Newts exhibit a colorful pigmentation, which determines how charming they look in the eyes of potential mates. However, freshwaters (including wetlands) in the northern hemisphere are subject to “water browning”. This means that water is getting browner, mainly due to an increase in organic matter content from the land. Consequences on aquatic biodiversity are still muddy. Does brownification affect newt reproduction by changing their body coloration? Clarisse Blanchet is a Wetland Ecology PhD student. She and her assistant, MSc student Basile Marteau, research the effects of browning in beaver ponds and temporary wetlands (vernal pools) of the Evo area. By placing jars (“activity traps”) in the waters of Evo, Clarisse and Basile catch newts and aquatic invertebrates which are then taken to the lab for analysis. Particularly Clarisse & Basile evaluate the newt pigmentation and estimate the invertebrate availability in their habitat. Invertebrates are known to be negatively impacted by water browning and are the main food resource for newts. Clarisse & Basile are the first to investigate newt populations in Evo. Their work sheds light on the food and habitat needs of these discreet amphibians.