The influence of non-salamander heterospecifics on the demography and abundance of Red-Backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) in the Credit River Watershed

Stephanie Elizabeth May Varty

Abstract


Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) are widely used as a biological indicator of terrestrial ecosystem health in North America due to their large range, potentially high biomass and large influence on ecosystem regulation. Monitoring projects often overlook the potential influence of intraspecific interactions and how Red-backed Salamander (RBS) abundance and demographics can be affected by symbiotic relationships. The adult to juvenile ratio was explored in relation to presence of ants, tunneling, number of small and large burrows. It was found that between 2011-2015 there was a significant increase in small and large burrows. It was found that ants, small burrows and large burrows were significantly related to both maximum salamander counts and adult-juvenile ratios. The relationship between both abundance and demographics with ants showed a negative relationship, while small and large burrows had a positive relationship. Tunneling was found to have no statistical significance (Table 1, Table 2). These results highlight the importance of considering biotic interactions when analyzing indicator species populations. Future steps should include determining how both biotic and abiotic properties interact to influence RBS populations and determining what type of interspecific interactions are occurring under cover boards via controlled experiments.

Les salamandres cendrées (Plethodon cinereus) sont largement utilisées comme des indicateurs biologiques de la santé des écosystèmes terrestres en Amérique du Nord, en raison de leur portée vaste, de leur biomasse potentiellement élevée et de leur influence importante au niveau de la régulation des écosystèmes. Les projets de surveillance négligent souvent l’influence potentielle des interactions intraspécifiques, ainsi que la façon dont les relations symbiotiques peuvent affecter l’abondance et la démographie de la salamandre cendrée (SC). L’abondance de la SC et le rapport entre le nombre d’adultes et de jeunes ont été explorés en relation avec la présence de fourmis, de leurs tunnels et du nombre de petits et grands terriers. On a déterminé qu’entre 2011 et 2015, il y a eu une augmentation importante du nombre de petits et grands terriers et que la présence de fourmis, de petits et grands terriers était fortement liée au nombre maximal de salamandres et aux rapports adultes-jeunes. Les rapports trouvés entre la présence de fourmis, l’abondance de la SC et la démographie de l’espèce ont présenté une corrélation négative, alors que la présence de petits et grands terriers a présenté une corrélation positive. L’excavation des tunnels n’avait pas d’importance statistique (Tableau 1, tableau 2). Ces résultats soulignent l’importance de considérer les interactions biotiques lors de l’analyse des populations d’espèces indicatrices. Les prochaines étapes devraient inclure l’identification de la façon dont les propriétés biotiques et abiotiques interagissent pour influencer les populations de la SC et de déterminer quels types d’interactions interspécifiques se produisent sous le couvert des expériences contrôlées.


Keywords


conservation; indicator species; red-backed salamander; terrestrial; monitoring

Full Text:

PDF

References


Burgett, A.A. and Smith, G.R. (2012). Differential Responses of Eastern Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) to Conspecifics and Centipedes. Current Herpetology 31(2): 78–86.

Credit Valley Conservation. (2010). Monitoring Forest Integrity within the Credit River Watershed Chapter 3: Forest Tree Health.

Caceres-Charneco, R. and Ransom, T. (2010). The influence of habitat provisioning: use of earthworm burrows by the terrestrial salamander, Plethodon cinereus. Population Ecology 52(4) 517-526p.

Dillard, L. O., Russell, K. R., & Ford, W. M. (2008). Site-level habitat models for the endemic, threatened cheat mountain salamander (plethodon nettingi): The importance of geophysical and biotic attributes for predicting occurrence. Biodiversity and Conservation, 17(6), 1475-1492.

Farallo, R. (2016).The Importance of Microhabitat: A Comparison of Two Microendemic Species of Plethodon to the Widespread P. cinereus. Copeia. 104(1) 67p.

Gabor, C.R., Jaeger, R.G. (1995). Resource quality affects the agonistic behavior of territorial salamanders. Animal Behaviour 49:71–79.

Grover, M. (1998). Influence of Cover and Moisture on Abundances of the Terrestrial Salamanders Plethodon cinerus and Plethodon glutinosus. Journal of Herpetology 32(4):489-497.

Hickerson, C. M., Anthony, C. D., and Wicknick, J. A. (2004). Behavioral interactions between salamanders and centipedes: competition in divergent taxa. Behavioral Ecology 15: 679–686.

Hocking, D. and Babbitt, K. (2014) Effects of Red- Backed Salamanders on Ecosystem Functions. PLoS ONE 9(1) e86854. doi: 10.1371/journal. pone.0086854

Jaeger, R.G. (2000). Landscape division, splitting index, and effective mesh size: New measures of landscape fragmentation. Landscape Ecology, 15(2), 115–130.

Jaeger, R.G., Wicknick, J.A., Griffis, M.R., Anthony, C.D.(1995). Socioecology of a terrestrial salamander: juveniles enter adult territories during stressful foraging periods. Ecology 76:533–543.

Lewis, J. D., Connette, G. M., Deyrup, M. A., Carrel, J. E., & Semlitsch, R. D. (2014). Relationship between diet and microhabitat use of red-legged salamanders (plethodon shermani) in southwestern north carolina. Copeia, 2014(2), 201-205.

Lima, S. L., and Dill, L.M. (1990). Behavioral decisions made under the risk of predation: a review and prospectus. Canadian Journal of Zoology 68:619–640.

Maglia, A. (1996). Ontogeny and Feeding Ecology of the Red-Backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus. Copeia. (3) 576-586.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. (2012). State of Ontario’s Forests. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 73p.

Petranka, J.W. (1998). Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C., USA.

R Core Team (2013). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. URL http://www.R-project.org/.

Society for Ecological Restoration, Science & Policy Working Group. (2004) SER International Primer on Ecological Restoration. Society for Ecological Restoration.

Sugalski, M. and Claussen, T. (1997). Preference for Soil Moisture, Soil pH, and Light Intensity by the Salamander, Plethodon cinereous. Journal of Herpetology 31(2):245-250p.

Sugar, A., Bellhouse, T., Phoenix, D., Dawson, N. and Holborn, G. (2001). A Sampling Protocol for Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus) Populations in Ontario: the 2nd pilot study. Wildlife Assessment Program, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources WAP-2001-01. 23 pp

Taub, F. (1961). The Distribution of the Red-Backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus, within the Soil. Ecology 42(4):681-686p.

Townsend,Victor R.,,Jr, Akin, J. A., & Jaeger, R. G. (1998). The significance of small body size in territorial defense in the red-backed salamander, plethodon cinereus. Journal of Herpetology, 32(4), 579p.

Welsch Jr., HH. & Droege, S. (2001). A case for using plethodontid salamanders for monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem integrity of North American forests. Conservation Biology 15:558– 569.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.13034/jsst.v10i2.216

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2017 Journal of Student Science and Technology