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


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.


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

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