Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, will do field and genetic studies of tiger salamander breeding pools and habitats at Riverhead’s Enterprise Park at Calverton, paid for by a $50,000 grant from metals trader and philanthropist Andrew E. Sabin.
The work will involve collecting tissue samples and about 30 larvae from breeding ponds during the late larval season this year and next year, and studying gene flow between ponds, habitat features and how man-made and natural features inhibit or promote movement of the species, which is on the state’s endangered species list. Late larval season is usually around June or July, but can change because of the weather and other factors.
State law already prevents damaging the salamander habitat. Sabin told Riverhead Town officials the study was not related to town efforts to subdivide its sprawling EPCAL property, and would have no impact on town development efforts.
The town board voted, 4-1, on Tuesday to authorize the study, with Councilwoman Jodi Giglio voting against it, saying she still feared it could interfere with town development plans.
Sabin’s privately owned company, with headquarters in East Hampton, is the largest precious metals refiner in the United States. Sabin, an internationally recognized amateur herpetologist, is a major sponsor of the reptile exhibit at the Bronx Zoo and is on the advisory board of the Yale Center for Business and the Environment. He is sometimes referred to as “Mr. Salamander” because he was responsible for the first documented find in recent history of the Eastern tiger salamander.