Comparisons in morphology, reproductive status, and feeding ecology of plethodon cinereus at high and low elevations in West Virginia
To develop effects of elevation on morphological features, reproductive status, and feeding ecology of Plethodon cinereus in West Virginia, overall comparisons between high (>4000 ft) and low (<1260 >ft) elevation populations were made. Adult P. cinereus from high elevations were smaller in SVL (female: p=0.003, male: p<0.001), but stored larger amounts of fat (female: p=0.041, male: p=0.006) in their tails than from low elevations. Larger amounts of tail fat could be an adaptation to harsh environments at high elevations. It was determined that in West Virginia, whereas females at low elevations oviposit annually, females at high elevations oviposit biennially. Stomach content analysis revealed that salamanders at high elevations were confronted by food shortage. Because of less prey availability and longer winters at high elevations, salamanders at high elevations attained the smaller body size than at low elevations and could not obtain sufficient energy in 1 year to yolk a clutch.