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Elevation, Aspect, and Cove Size Effects on Southern Appalachian Salamanders

W. Mark Ford, Michael A. Menzel and Richard H. Odom
Southeastern Naturalist
Vol. 1, No. 4 (2002), pp. 315-324
Published by: Eagle Hill Institute
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3878170
Page Count: 10
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Elevation, Aspect, and Cove Size Effects on Southern Appalachian Salamanders
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Abstract

Using museum collection records and variables computed by digital terrain modeling in a geographic information system, we examined the relationship of elevation, aspect, and "cove" patch size to the presence or absence of 7 common woodland salamanders in mature cove hardwood and northern hardwood forests in the southern Appalachians of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Overall, elevation, aspect and patch size were poor discriminators among salamander species presence or absence at collection sites. Increased elevation was an important variable explaining the presence of Ocoee salamanders (Desmognathus ocoee) and Jordan's salamanders (Plethodon jordani). In contrast, decreased elevation was an important variable explaining the presence of slimy salamanders (Plethodon glutinosus). Our study contrasts with recent research indicating that suitable habitat patch size is an important determinant of woodland salamander species richness and abundance at recently disturbed sites. In these mature stands, we believe that cove patch size as determined by modeling either was well above effect-level thresholds for influencing individual species presence or our modeling failed to reflect true collection site conditions.

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