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    Author(s): Kevin R. Russell; Hugh G. Hanlin; T. Bently Wigley; David C. Guynn
    Date: 2002
    Source: The Journal of Wildlife Management
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Southern Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)

    Description

    Because many amphibians and reptiles associated with wetlands also use adjacent terrestrial habitats to complete their life cycles, it has been suggested that undisturbed upland areas are required to maintain populations of these species. To date, however, measured responses of wetland herpetofauna to upland silviculture include only retrospective comparisons or anecdotes without true spatial and temporal references. We used an experimental approach to measure responses of herpetofauna at isolated wetlands in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina, USA, to disturbance of adjacent loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) forests. We used drift fences with pitfall traps to sample herpetofauna at 5 wetland sites for 1 year before (1997) and 2 years after (1998-1999) the following treatments were applied to the upland stands surrounding each site: (1) reference (unharvested), (2) clearcutting, and (3) clearcutting followed by mechanical site preparation. Although silvicultural treatments significantly altered overstory and ground-cover characteristics of upland stands, we did not observe any treatment-related changes in the overall richness, abundance, or community similarity of amphibian and reptile communities at the wetlands. Turtles and snakes were less abundant adjacent to clearcut and site-prepared stands 6 months after treatment but not after 1.5 years, possibly in response to physical disturbance of nest sites and changes in ground cover. Fifteen of the 17 species of herpetofauna with ≥30 individual captures showed no effects of treatments. Bronze frogs (Rana clamitans) entered the wetlands in proportionally higher numbers from clearcuts and site-prepared stands 1.5 years after treatment, possibly in relation to increased standing water in treated stands. In contrast, site preparation appeared to reduce the abundance of black racers (Coluber constrictor) 6 months after treatment. In the short term at least, many species of isolated wetland herpetofauna in the southeastern Coastal Plain may tolerate some disturbance in adjacent upland stands. Responses of isolated wetland herpetofauna to upland silviculture and the need for adjacent forested buffers likely depend on the specific landscape context (e.g., natural disturbance regimes) in which the wetlands occur and composition of the resident herpetofaunal community.

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    Citation

    Russell, Kevin R.; Hanlin, Hugh G.; Wigley, T. Bently; Guynn, David C. 2002. Responses of isolated wetland herpetofauna to upland forest management. The Journal of Wildlife Management. 66(3): 603-617.

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    Keywords

    amphibians, Anolis carolinensis, black racer, bronze frog, Bufo terrestris, Carplwphis amoenus, clearcutting, Coastal Plain, Coluber constrictor, forest management, green anole, herpetofauna, isolated wetlands, Rana clamitans, Rana utricularia, reptiles, site preparation, South Carolina, southern leopard frog, southern toad, worm snake

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