Faculty Publications and Presentations

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Biology | Chemistry


Published in Herpetological Conservation and Biology 4(3), 285-294, 2009.


The Peaks of Otter Salamander, Plethodon hubrichti, is found along a 19 km length of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Virginia, USA, often in sympatry with the Eastern Red-backed Salamander, P. cinereus. In a sympatric area of Bedford County, Virginia, we conducted a mark-recapture study on a 10 × 10 m site. Surface densities of salamanders increased as the number of days without precipitation prior to a collection event increased. This suggests vertical movements in response to surface moisture. When salamanders returned to the surface after rain, individuals appeared to “shuffle” between rocks and likely, leaf litter. That is, we were more likely to find a different individual beneath a particular rock rather than the previous resident during sequential collection periods. There was no significant difference between the species in microhabitat use by adults; adults were primarily found under rocks. However, neonate and young-of-the-year P. hubrichti were found beneath rocks more frequently than P. cinereus. Linear movements, home ranges, growth rates and adult survival rates were similar for both species. Density for P. hubrichti in sympatry with P. cinereus was 0.6/m2, which is lower than previously recorded for P. hubrichti in allopatry (1.6–3.3/m2). Cumulative ratios of numbers of the two species were stable over nine collection events but showed the least change (≤ 2%) after the third collection. We recommend using ratios of the two species at a series of sympatric sites as one measure to determine whether P. cinereus is encroaching upon the distribution of P. hubrichti.