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Importance of small isolated wetlands for herpetofaunal diversity in managed, young growth forests in the Coastal Plain of South CarolinaAuthor(s): Kevin R. Russell; David C. Guynn; Hugh G. Hanlin
Source: Forest Ecology and Management
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
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DescriptionFreshwater wetlands support diverse and unique species assemblages, but the contribution of the smallest of these habitats to regional biodiversity continues to be underestimated, particularly within managed forests. We assessed and compared the richness, abundance, and diversity of herpetofauna at five small isolated wetlands (0.38–1.06 ha) imbedded within a commercial forest landscape in the South Carolina Coastal Plain. Continuous drift fences with pitfall traps that completely encircled the wetlands were used to sample entering and exiting herpetofauna. We also deployed coverboards to sample herpetofauna in the adjacent uplands. We captured 9186 individuals of 56 species (20 amphibians, 36 reptiles) from the five wetlands combined between 1996 and 1998. Although species richness and community composition were similar at the five sites, we found significant differences in herpetofaunal abundance and diversity among wetlands. These differences did not vary with wetland size but were related to environmental and habitat attributes of the surrounding upland stands. Amphibian abundance was positively correlated with basal area of upland conifers but negatively correlated with presence and size of hardwoods, relationships that appeared to be partially influenced by previous stand management. Amphibian diversity (H′) increased with conifer diameter but decreased with increasing distance to nearest wetland. Reptile diversity was negatively correlated with upland canopy closure. Our data indicate that small isolated wetlands are focal points of herpetofaunal richness and abundance in managed coastal plain forests and contribute more to regional biodiversity than is implied by their small size or ephemeral hydrology. By incorporating small wetland values and functions into planning objectives, forest managers can significantly enhance the contribution of extensive young-growth forests to regional conservation of biodiversity.
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CitationRussell, Kevin R.; Guynn, David C.; Hanlin, Hugh G. 2002. Importance of small isolated wetlands for herpetofaunal diversity in managed, young growth forests in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina. Forest Ecology and Management. 163(1-3): 43-59.
KeywordsAmphibians, Forest management, Herpetofauna Reptiles, Small isolated wetlands, South Carolina coastal plain
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