The diversity and abundance of terrestrial salamanders were compared at 12 forest stands having three different land use histories: (a) successional forests established on abandoned farmland; (b) second/third growth forests that had experienced timber harvest; (c) stands having few to no alterations due to land use. Populations were estimated using pitfall trapping conducted during July 1997–June 1998 in the Southern Blue Ridge Province of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Salamander diversity did not differ among land use categories; however, abundances were greater in the older, least-altered stands. Abundances were positively correlated with late successional qualities of forest, such as increased domination by mesophytic tree species and increased availability of wood debris. However, we did not find large differences between stands that had experienced previous agricultural uses and those that had not been farmed, only logged. At our sites, enough time had passed since agricultural use that any differences between agricultural and forestry uses had diminished. These results show both the sensitivity of salamanders to past habitat alterations and the resiliency of these populations in their ability to recover in these ecosystems given sufficient time.
Forest Ecology and Management – Elsevier
Published: Apr 7, 2003
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