Habitat selection and movement patterns of amphibians in altered forest habitats
Graeter, Gabrielle Joy
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I released adult southern leopard frogs (Rana sphenocephala), marbled salamanders (Ambystoma opacum), and southern toads (Bufo terrestris) on forest/clearcut edges to examine the effects of forest management on amphibian habitat selection and movement behavior. Salamanders selected habitat at random, toads preferred clearcuts, and frogs initially selected clearcuts but ultimately chose forests. All three species made more turns in clearcuts than forests, and toads and frogs moved farther in forests. Frogs and toads moved without regard to environmental conditions, but salamanders were influenced by soil moisture. I also examined the efficacy of fluorescent powder as an amphibian tracking technique and found that some colors were easier to detect when paths were long, that heavy rainfall truncated path length, and that effectiveness varied among species, habitat, and region. Such knowledge of individual and species-level responses to terrestrial habitat alteration will facilitate development of forest management plans that enhance persistence of amphibian populations.