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Herpetofaunal Response to Gap and Skidder-Rut Wetland Creation in a Southern Bottomland Hardwood Forest

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Abstract:

We compared herpetofaunal communities in recently harvested gaps, skidder trails, and unharvested depressional wetlands to assess the effects of group-selection harvesting and skidder traffic on reptiles and amphibians in a southern bottomland hardwood forest. From January 1, 1997 to December 31, 1998 we captured 24,292 individuals representing 55 species of reptiles and amphibians at the Savannah River Site in Barnwell County, South Carolina. Forty-two species (n = 6,702 individuals) were captured in gaps, 43 species (n = 8,863 individuals) were captured along skid trails between gaps and 43 species (n = 8,727 individuals) were captured in bottomland depressions over the 2 yr period. Three vegetation variables and six environmental variables were correlated with herpetofaunal abundance. Salamander abundance, especially for species in the genus Ambystoma, was negatively associated with areas with less canopy cover and pronounced rutting (i.e., gaps and skidder trails). Alternatively, treefrog (Hylidae) abundance was positively associated with gap creation. Results from this study suggest that group selection harvests and skidder rutting may alter the herpetofaunal species composition in southern bottomland hardwoods by increasing habitat suitability for some species while diminishing it for others. FOR. SCI. 48(2):407–413.

Keywords: Amphibians; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forested wetlands; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; group selection; natural resource management; natural resources; reptiles

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Graduate Research Assistant Clemson University Dept. of Forest Resources, 261 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson, SC, 29634, Phone: (864) 656-3302 rcromer@clemson.edu 2: Assistant Professor, Clemson University Dept. of Forest Resources, 261 Lehotsky Hall, Clemson, SC, 29634, Phone: (864) 656-7294; Fax: (864) 656-7294 lanhamj@clemson.edu 3: Professor USC-Aiken Department of Biology and Geology, University of South Carolina-Aiken, Aiken, SC, 29801, Phone: (803) 641-3439 hughh@aiken.sc.edu

Publication date: May 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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