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Relative Abundance and Species Richness of Herpetofauna in Forest Stands in Pennsylvania

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The relative abundance and species richness of herpetofauna was investigated to assess the impact of recent logging operations in 47 forest stands in northeastern Pennsylvania during 1996 and 1997. Stands including nonindustrial private forestlands and public lands that have received some type of harvesting within the last 8 yr ranged from near complete overstory tree cover to complete removal of overstory cover. Stands included the two dominant forest types in the region: northern hardwood (Betula, Fagus, Prunus, Acer, and Tsuga spp.) and oak-hickory/(Quercus and Carya spp.). A total of 8,181 individuals of 26 species (12 salamander, 7 snake, 6 frog, and 1 toad species) were observed in the study stands. The relative abundance and species richness of salamanders increased significantly with increasing retention of tree basal area. Forest stands containing > 15 m²/ha live tree basal area appeared to be a threshold level for high salamander abundance. Snake species abundance and richness increased significantly with increasing removal of tree basal area. The abundance of anuran species showed no significant relationship with amount of tree basal area removal, but the relative abundance and species richness of anurans depended on the presence of water within or bordering the stands. Forest type did not change the overall response of herpetofauna community composition to forest harvesting, although salamanders were more abundant in northern hardwood stands, and snakes were more abundant in oak-hickory stands. Patterns and threshold levels of abundance and species richness of herpetofauna determined in this study may be used to maintain the abundance and richness of selected species when harvesting forest stands. For. Sci. 46(1):139-146.

Keywords: Logging; conservation; nonindustrial private forests

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: February 1, 2000

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