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Title: Efficacy of riparian buffers in mitigating local populations declines and the effects of even-aged timber harvest on larval salamanders

Author: Peterman, William E; Semlitch, Raymond D.;

Date: 2009


Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)


Headwater streams are an important and prevalent feature of the eastern North American landscape.These streams provide a wealth of ecosystem services and support tremendous biological diversity, which is predominated by salamanders in the Appalachian region. Salamanders are ubiquitous throughout the region, contributing a significant biomass that supports ecological and ecosystem processes. One of the greatest threats to salamanders is loss of headwater-riparian habitat through timber harvest. ln this study, we measured larval salamander abundance at five headwater streams with different riparian buffer widths retained following logging. By sampling larval salamanders using leaf litter bags, we assessed the impacts of even-aged timber harvest on aquatic larval salamander abundances, where it was found that larvae are negatively impacted by increased stream sedimentation and a decrease in riparian buffer width. We found that retention of a 9-m buffer was effectively no different than complete removal of all riparian forest, and as such, current regulations to protect headwater streams are ineffectual. Furthermore, no significant differences were observed between the 30 m buffer treatment and uncut control treatments suggesting that a 30 m or larger riparian buffer may assuage the inwstream effects of riparian timber harvest Management guidelines for Appalachian forests should be revised to accommodate the biology of plethodontid salamanders.

Keywords: Desmognathus quadmmculatus, Ellrycea wilderae, Headwater stream, Riparian buffer, Salamander larvae, Sedimentation

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Peterman, William E; Semlitch, Raymond D. 2009. Efficacy of riparian buffers in mitigating local populations declines and the effects of even-aged timber harvest on larval salamanders. Elsevier. Forest Ecology and Management 257 (2009) 8-14.


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