Stand age and habitat influences on salamanders in Appalachian cove hardwood forests
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Forest Ecology and Management 155:131-141
We surveyed cove hardwood stands aged 15, 25, 50, and ≥85 years following clearcutting in the southern Appalachian Mountains of northern Georgia to assess the effects of stand age and stand habitat characteristics on salamander communities using drift-fence array and pitfall methodologies from May 1994 to April 1995. Over a 60,060 pitfall trapnight effort, we collected 3937 salamanders represented by Desmognathus aeneus, Desmognathus monticola, Desmognathus ocoee, Desmognathus quadramaculatus, Eurycea bislineata, Gyrinophilus porphyriticus, Pseudotriton ruber, Plethodon glutinosus, Plethodon serratus, and Notophthalmus viridescens. Analysis of covariance with pitfall array to stream distance as the covariate showed that salamander species richness and diversity measures and numbers of Desmognathus aeneus and Desmognathus ocoee were highest in stands ≥85 years. Eurycea bislineata and Plethodon glutinosus were more abundant in stands ≤50 years old than in stands ≥85 years. Within cove hardwood stands, species richness and diversity measures and relative abundances of Desmognathus spp. and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus were negatively correlated with distance to stream. Species richness and diversity were positively correlated to amounts of emergent rock. Species richness, diversity and relative abundances of Desmognathus spp. were correlated with basal area within stands and extent of connected mesic, cove hardwood habitat and amount of cove habitat within 1 km radius among stands. Eurycea bislineata was negatively correlated with landform index, a measure of surrounding landform sheltering, and Plethodon glutinosus was positively correlated with elevation in cove hardwood stands. Our research indicates stand age is an important factor in explaining the abundance and community composition of salamanders in southern Appalachian cove hardwood communities. Because southern Appalachian woodland salamander communities are slow to recover and are substantially changed following disturbances such as clearcutting, populations in small, isolated cove hardwood stands might be more vulnerable to extirpation or may require longer recovery times than those in larger coves. Managers may need to assess habitat features such as cove extent and habitat connectivity to minimize impacts on these taxa by forest management activities in southern Appalachian cove hardwood communities.
KeywordsClearcutting; Cove hardwoods; Habitat connectivity; Salamanders; Southern Appalachians
Ford, W. Mark; Chapman, Brian R.; Menzel, Michael A.; Odom, Richard H. 2002. Stand age and habitat influences on salamanders in Appalachian cove hardwood forests. Forest Ecology and Management 155:131-141