Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Farmed Release

Farming of Chinese giant salamanders is actually driving their extinction, the New York Times reports.

Though it adds that millions of salamanders are farmed for their meat in China, the salamanders on the farms differ from those in the wild. In a new Current Biology paper, researchers led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology's Jing Che report on their genetic analysis of 1,034 farmed salamanders and 70 wild ones in which they found there used to be five or more distinctive clusters of Chinese giant salamanders. But the farmed salamanders have become a single hybridized population, the researchers add.

Additionally, in a separate Current Biology paper, researchers led by Andrew Cunningham from the Zoological Society of London report the wild salamander population is depleted or functionally extinct at the sites they surveyed.

The Times adds that officials in China, recognizing the decline of wild Chinese giant salamanders, released farmed ones in a bid to boost their numbers. But both sets of researchers called this approach misguided as it could drive the extinction of any remaining wild populations. "These hybrids may create a big mess by changing the genetic makeup of locally adapted wild animals," Che tells the Times.

To save the Chinese giant salamander from extinction, Cunningham and his colleagues suggest that captive populations of salamanders from distinct genetic lineages be established.