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    Author(s): H.H. Welsh
    Date: 1990
    Source: Conservation Biology. 4: 309-319
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (244.0 KB)


    Terrestrial and aquatic herpetofauna were sampled by pitfall traps, time-constrained searches, and areaconstrained searches (stream sites only) over a three-year period to examine the importance of forest age to amphibians and reptiles. Fifty-four terrestrial and 39 aquatic sites in Douglas-fir-dominated, mixed evergreen forests were located in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California Mean age of trees on sites ranged in age from 30 to 560 years. Thirty-one species of amphibians and reptiles were detected from the 93 localities. Only three species were found primarily on older forest sites: the Del Norte salamander (Plethodon elongatus), the Olympic salamander (Rhyacotriton olympicus), and the tailed frog (Ascaphus truei). Paleoecologic evidence indicates an historical association between these three amphibians and the extant elements of ancient primeval coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. The life histories and habitat requirements of these species suggest that these forms are scarce in younger forests because the microclimatic and microhabitat conditions they require generally exist only in older forests. The long-term viability of these species in northern California and southern Oregon may depend upon developing forestry practices that protect these critical microclimates and microhabitats.

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    Welsh, H.H., Jr. 1990. Relictual amphibians and old-growth forest. Conservation Biology. 4: 309-319

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