SREL Reprint #3265




Effects of timber harvesting on terrestrial survival of pond-breeding amphibians

Brian D. Todd1, Sean M. Blomquist2, Elizabeth B. Harper3, and Michael S. Osbourn4

1Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis,
One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
2US Fish and Wildlife Service, 14000 W. State Route 2, Oak Harbor, OH 43449, USA
3Paul Smith's College, Rt. 30 & 86, Paul Smiths, NY 12970-0265, USA
4University of Missouri, Division of Biological Sciences, 212 Tucker Hall, Columbia, MO 65211-7400, USA

Abstract: Successful forest management for multiple uses requires balancing extractive practices with maintaining biodiversity, among other important goals. Amphibians comprise an important and abundant part of the biodiversity of many forests. Previous studies have documented declines in the abundance and diversity of amphibians in harvested forests. However, only recently have studies begun to elucidate the mechanisms that underlie such declines. Here, we studied the effects of timber harvesting on survival of geographically widespread ambystomatid salamanders in three forest regions of North America. We used terrestrial enclosures in the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast to compare amphibian survival in unharvested controls, partially harvested stands (~25% canopy reduction), and clearcuts with coarse woody debris either retained or removed. In all regions, patterns of amphibian survival were similar, with both juvenile and adult salamanders generally having significantly lower survival in clearcuts compared with unharvested controls. Survival of juvenile salamanders in partially harvested stands was also low, but adult salamanders survived as well or better in partially harvested stands as in controls. Larger body size in juveniles was significantly correlated with recapture, irrespective of treatment, in both the Northeast and Southeast, but not in the Midwest or for adults in any region. Relatively heavier adults were more likely to be captured again in the Southeast, but relative mass was not correlated with recapture in any other regions or for juveniles. Our results suggest that increased amphibian mortality may contribute to declines of amphibian abundance and richness after forest clearcutting for the regions evaluated here. Although our results indicate that partial harvesting is compatible with survival of adult salamanders, retention of intact forest around breeding ponds would benefit all terrestrial stages of pond-breeding salamanders and represents a best management practice for the maintenance of amphibian biodiversity.

Keywords: Ambystoma, Clearcutting, Enclosures, Salamander, Survival rates, Vital rates

SREL Reprint #3265

Todd, B. D., S. M. Blomquist, E. B. Harper, and M. S. Osbourn. 2014. Effects of timber harvesting on terrestrial survival of pond-breeding amphibians. Forest Ecology and Management 313(2014): 123-131.

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