Title

Biomass and Habitat Partitioning of Desmognathus on Wet Rock Faces in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Journal of Herpetology

Abstract

The importance of plethodontid salamanders in forested ecosystems has been recognized for decades, and studies aimed at quantifying salamander biomass and determining habitat requirements have become more common. However, there is a lack of knowledge on the use and contribution of vertical structures (e.g., wet rock faces) to total salamander biomass within a forested ecosystem. The purpose of our study was to characterize the population density, biomass, and habitat use of a wet rock face by a stream-salamander assemblage. We estimated the population density to be 14.69 salamanders m⁻² and the total biomass estimate to be 27.16 g m⁻², which is more than two times greater than any salamander biomass reported previously in the eastern United States. We also found significant habitat partitioning of the vertical gradient by the three species of salamanders in the assemblage. The stable microclimate and increased protection from other predators (e.g., mammals, snakes, and ground-foraging birds) provided by wet rock faces likely leads to the increased amount of biomass we found in this study. Although the salamanders are likely protected from most noncaudate predators, the spatial structuring in the assemblage still follows an intraguild prédation gradient found in horizontal habitats.

Publication Date

12-2013

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