Study documenting contributions of streamside management zones to conservation of stream-associated salamanders

Salamanders are an important part of animal communities associated with streams in the southern United States. Many of them are of conservation interest, including some species that are listed or have been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

For the past several years, scientists with the University of Arkansas and Weyerhaeuser Company have been studying stream-associated salamanders in the Ouachita Mountain region of Arkansas. The study is being led by J.D. Willson, an assistant professor of biological sciences. Funding is provided by Weyerhaeuser Company, NCASI, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission’s Division of Science and Technology, and the University of Arkansas.

The study is evaluating relationships between the number of stream‐associated salamanders of individual species present and characteristics of adjacent streamside management zones and upland intensively managed forests (e.g., streamside management zone width, stand age, tree species composition). They also are seeking to account for natural stream and landscape variables (e.g., hydroperiod, elevation, aspect). 

The investigators are marking individuals of two focal species of conservation priority, the Ouachita dusky salamander (Desmognathus brimleyorum) and the many-ribbed salamander (Eurycea multiplicata), to test their responses to harvesting in adjacent upland forests. To do so, the scientists are using a before-after-control-impact study design.

In 2014, the investigators documented 33 amphibian and reptile species in 64 streams, including the rare and endemic Caddo Mountain salamander (Plethodon caddoensis), and over 1,000 individuals of the two focal salamander species. The graduate students assigned to the project recently completed their second three-month field season in 2015, documenting 37 reptile and amphibian species and collecting data on hundreds of individual salamanders in 85 streams.

Results from this study will document contributions of streamside management zones to conservation of salamander species.


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