Woodland salamander response to two prescribed fires in the central Appalachians
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Forest Ecology and Management. 260: 1003-1009.
Using coverboard arrays, we monitored woodland salamanders on the Fernow Experimental Forest in the central Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia, USA prior to and following two prescribed fires in mixed oak (Quercus spp.) forest stands. Treatments were burn plots on upper slopes or lower slopes fenced to prevent white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herbivory or control plots that were unfenced and unburned. Most of the 7 species we observed were the mountain dusky salamander (Desmognathus ocropheaus), red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) and slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosis). Significant population responses were difficult to interpret with numerous treatment and year interactions. Results largely were equivocal. We found no change in woodland salamander assemblage prior to burning or afterwards. There were few differences in adult to juvenile ratios of salamanders among treatments. Still, a priori contrasts of mountain dusky salamanders and red-backed salamander counts corrected for detection probability were greater under coverboards in the 2 years monitored after both prescribed fires had occurred than before burning or in unburned controls. This suggests that these species responded to the reduced leaf litter on the forest floor by utilizing coverboards more. Similarly, the three predominate species of salamanders also were more numerous under coverboards in plots subjected to deer herbivory with less subsequent forest floor vegetation as compared to those burned plots that were fenced. Our observations would suggest that woodland salamanders somewhat are tolerant of two prescribed fires within close temporal proximity. However, because woodland salamanders can be significantly reduced following timber harvest, continued research is needed to fully understand impacts of fire as a pre-harvest management tool in central Appalachian forests.
KeywordsCentral Appalachians; Plethodontidae; Prescribed fire; Woodland salamander
Ford, W. Mark; Rodrigue, Jane L.; Rowan, Ella L.; Castleberry, Steven B.; Schuler, Thomas M. 2010. Woodland salamander response to two prescribed fires in the central Appalachians. Forest Ecology and Management. 260: 1003-1009. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2010.06.022.