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EFFECTS OF FOREST MANAGEMENT ON TERRESTRIAL SALAMANDERS IN A MIDWEST HARDWOOD ECOSYSTEM

thesis
posted on 2023-10-13, 21:20 authored by Alison E OchsAlison E Ochs

To examine how forest management affects terrestrial salamanders, this dissertation: (1) examines the effects of timber harvesting strategies on salamanders; (2) examines the effects of prescribed fire for oak regeneration on salamander populations; and (3) explores the influence of artificial cover object (ACO) wood type, size and shape, and placement on salamander monitoring results. These projects were conducted at the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) and Martell Experimental Forest in Indiana. Long-term salamander monitoring data from the HEE were used to examine the effects of clearcuts, shelterwoods, and patch cuts on salamander captures collected up to eleven years post-harvest and were analyzed with a before-after-control-impact (BACI) design. Clearcuts and patch cuts had negative effects on salamanders 4-6 years post-harvest, which coincided with a drought; however, preparatory and establishment shelterwood harvests showed no effects on salamander captures, suggesting that retaining canopy cover may protect salamanders from compound disturbances such as drought. Also at the HEE, capture-recapture techniques were used to examine salamander population estimates before and after fire. Only two of three fires affected salamander populations. In the short term, prescribed fire effects on salamanders may be weak and intermittent and microclimate may have a greater effect on populations, although the longer-term effects of fire remain unknown. At Martell Experimental Forest, salamander numbers were compared beneath ACOs of different wood types, sizes and shapes, and grid arrays of different spacings. Pine ACOs were preferred over ash, while several small ACOs yielded equal salamander numbers to one large ACO of equal total area. High ACO density may increase capture probability but reduce the area sampled by each ACO, while lower density ACO grids may cover a larger area with the same sampling effort and produce more comparable results, but with less precision; choice of ACO experimental design will therefore require careful consideration of management goals. This dissertation also suggests strategies to support salamander populations as guidelines for managers to consider in management planning.

Funding

Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University

McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Research Program (IND011557MS)

History

Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy

Department

  • Forestry and Natural Resources

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Robert K. Swihart

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Michael R. Saunders

Additional Committee Member 2

Rod N. Williams

Additional Committee Member 3

Grant M. Connette