Investigating energy flow pathways through a headwater top predator
Trice, Amy Elaine
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Little is known about the trophic ecology of headwater stream salamanders beyond basic diet snapshots. These important predators likely drive numerous ecosystem functions. During a two-year study period, I investigated the seasonal changes and species-specific differences in three distinct headwater stream salamander species (Desmognathus quadramaculatus, Desmognathus ocoee and Eurycea cirrigera). Through the application of stable isotopes, mixing models, gut content analysis, and biomass estimates of both salamanders and their prey, I provided an evaluation of headwater stream spatial and temporal variation, as well as the trophic ecology of salamanders, within the headwaters of the Etowah River watershed.