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Stream water temperature limits occupancy of salamanders in mid-Atlantic protected areas

January 1, 2014

Stream ecosystems are particularly sensitive to urbanization, and tolerance of water-quality parameters is likely important to population persistence of stream salamanders. Forecasted climate and landscape changes may lead to significant changes in stream flow, chemical composition, and temperatures in coming decades. Protected areas where landscape alterations are minimized will therefore become increasingly important for salamander populations. We surveyed 29 streams at three national parks in the highly urbanized greater metropolitan area of Washington, DC. We investigated relationships among water-quality variables and occupancy of three species of stream salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus, Eurycea bislineata, and Pseudotriton ruber). With the use of a set of site-occupancy models, and accounting for imperfect detection, we found that stream-water temperature limits salamander occupancy. There was substantial uncertainty about the effects of the other water-quality variables, although both specific conductance (SC) and pH were included in competitive models. Our estimates of occupancy suggest that temperature, SC, and pH have some importance in structuring stream salamander distribution.

Publication Year 2014
Title Stream water temperature limits occupancy of salamanders in mid-Atlantic protected areas
DOI 10.1670/12-138
Authors Evan H. Campbell Grant, Amber N. M. Wiewel, Karen C. Rice
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Herpetology
Index ID 70156245
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; Virginia Water Science Center