Title

Forest Legacy Effects on Amphibian Populations: Integrating Land and Life Histories in Conservation

Date of Award

5-2-2018

Semester of Degree

May

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Major Professor

James Gibbs

Steering Committee Member

Jonathan Cohen

Steering Committee Member

Gregory McGee

Steering Committee Member

Bradley Cosentino

Abstract

Understanding how forests are shaped by historical disturbances is essential for developing effective conservation plans for forest-dwelling organisms threatened by habitat loss, such as amphibians. Salamander and frog populations and microhabitats were sampled using visual encounter surveys and forest habitat assessments in uplands varying in aquatic habitat resources (i.e., vernal pool densities) and disturbance history (i.e., secondary to residual forests) to assess agricultural land-use legacy effects on populations and terrestrial habitats of amphibians with different life histories. Pool-breeding, stream-breeding, and fully terrestrial salamanders were negatively associated with secondary forests, which featured shallower leaf litter, denser understory vegetation, and fewer cover objects than residual forests. Only wood frogs were unaffected by disturbance history, being solely influenced by available aquatic habitat. These results demonstrate the utility of historical ecology for amphibian population studies and suggest that secondary forests may not provide the same conservation value as residual forests for many amphibian species.

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