Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Thomas K. Pauley

Second Advisor

Donald Tarter

Third Advisor

Dan Evans


A study was conducted to determine various aspects of the ecology of Plethodon kentucki in West Virginia. Results of studies on range and distribution revealed that P. kentucki is limited to southwestern counties in West Virginia. A population of P. kentucki at Beech Fork State Park was extremely seasonal with regard to activity. Seasonal activity was not significantly correlated with air temperature, soil temperature, air relative humidity, or soil pH. Seasonal activity was significantly correlated with soil moisture. Critical Thermal Maxima and dehydration values were not significantly different between f· kentucki and its congener, P. glutinosus, thus each is equally well adapted to temperature and moisture conditions in West Virginia. Environmental conditions (temperature and moisture) do not explain the absence of f kentucki in northern counties where P. glutinosus is abundant. Plethodon kentucki was most active between 9:00 and 10:00PM EST. Linear movements were measured at 1.32 m for a juvenile, and 1.81 m for an adult female. Rocks (47.9%) were utilized as cover objects more frequently than leaves (20.8%) and logs (4.2%). Crevices beneath exposed roots of living trees were important microhabitats for P. kentucki (27.1%). Individuals of P. kentucki were found more frequently on west-facing slopes (44.8%) than on southwest- (31.0%) and northwest-facing slopes (14.6%). Based on results of laboratory studies, competition occurs between f. kentucki and f. glutinosus in West Virginia. Plethodon glutinosus was more territorial in nature, and was considered the dominant competitor. Competition apparently plays a key role in limiting the range and distribution of P. kentucki in West Virginia. The stomachs of 70 P. kentucki and 79 f· glutionsus were analyzed for food contents. Prey selection was significantly correlated, thus indicating a high degree of similarity in feeding habits for the two species. Hymenopterans were found in stomachs of both species more frequently than any other prey type (f. · 71.4% ; f. g. 54.4%), followed by coleopterans (f. k. 40.0% ; f· g. 32.9%) and gastropods (f. · 30.0% ; f· g. 30.4%). Food appears to be a resource for which these two species compete. Head width was not significantly different for the two species. Prey size probably does not partition feeding habits, and thus probably increases the intensity of competition for food between P. kentucki and P. glutinosus.


Plethodon - Ecology - West Virginia


Salamanders - Ecology - West Virginia