Date of Award
College of Science
Type of Degree
Thomas K. Pauley
Amphibian distributions are greatly influenced by environmental variables, due in part to semi-permeable skin which makes amphibians susceptible to both desiccation and toxin absorption. This study was conducted to determine which streamside salamander species were sympatric and how environmental variables may have influenced habitat choices. One hundred sixty streams were surveyed throughout 55 counties in West Virginia during the summer of 2007. At each site, a 10 m 2 quadrat was established around a central aquatic habitat. While surveying, I looked under natural cover objects, in vegetation, and through leaf litter. I recorded species, cover object type, and location on the hill or in the stream for each captured animal. Environmental data, including water pH, water, soil, and air temperature, and relative humidity, were collected to assess habitat specificity. Eight streamside salamander species including Pseudotriton r. ruber, Desmognathus fuscus, D. ochrophaeus, D. monticola, Eurycea bislineata, E. cirrigera, E. longicauda, and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus were commonly encountered. All species predominantly chose rocks as cover objects over other available substrate. Additional choices depended on the characteristic habitat of each species. Larger species occurred predominantly within the stream while smaller species were more terrestrial. Desmognathus fuscus, an intermediate-sized species, were found equally on the hill and in the stream. Environmental tolerance ranges overlapped; however, D. fuscus and E. bislineata were least specific in their environmental preferences while E. cirrigera and E. longicauda were the most selective. Habitat characteristics appeared to play the most significant role in determining species composition. However, environmental variables are important determinants that should continue to be considered.
Salamanders -- Habitat -- Environmental aspects.
Pawlik, Kathryn Rebecca, "West Virginia Streamside Salamander Guilds and Environmental Variables with an Emphasis on Pseudotriton ruber ruber" (2008). Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. 780.