Efficacy and biases of cover object survey design for sampling eastern red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) at forest edge and interior locations
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Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 15(2): 440-447.¿
Terrestrial salamanders are adapted to moist, cool microenvironments that facilitate cutaneous respiration and decrease risk of desiccation. Warmer, drier microenvironments may induce habitat use changes by salamanders to alleviate stressful microenvironmental conditions. Changes in salamander habitat use may bias population metrics when sampling occurs in areas with different microenvironmental conditions. The objective of this study was to determine whether Plethodon cinereus (Eastern Red-backed Salamander) exhibit surface cover object refugia preferences or occupancy rate differences at sampling locations with different microenvironmental conditions and with respect to sampling day of year. We assessed P. cinereus occupancy rates and preference of surface cover refugia using artificial and natural cover objects in two sampling locations: forests along rights-of-way (EDGEFOR) and interior forests (INTFOR). Plethodon cinereus showed no preference for cover object type (coverboards, logs, and rocks) in either EDGEFOR or INTFOR sampling plots. Occupancy rates were greater under cover objects in INTFOR plots than EDGEFOR plots. Occupancy rates increased with increasing cover object width and decreased with day of year (spring-late summer) irrespective of cover object type or sampling location. Our study suggests that incorporating multiple cover object types into study designs will not incur bias resulting from preference of P. cinereus for cover objects.
Keywordscentral Appalachian forests; forest edge; interior forest; plethodontid salamanders; surface cover sampling
Margenau, Eric L.; Wood, Petra B.; Brown, Donald J. 2020. Efficacy and biases of cover object survey design for sampling eastern red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) at forest edge and interior locations. Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 15(2): 440-447.