Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Jayme Waldron, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Shane Welch

Third Advisor

Dr. Anne Axel


Determining the survey effort required to reliably detect population change can be challenging for cryptic, elusive species. The secretive nature of amphibians makes it difficult to monitor population status and gather information about their natural history, including habitat use, which is essential for amphibian monitoring programs. The goals of this study were to examine if detection probabilities were affected by bait (i.e., light and food), breeding activity, and environmental covariates in a population of fully aquatic salamanders, Necturus maculosus. I evaluated the effectiveness of three bait treatments (light bait, food bait, combined light and food bait) and an unbaited control. I expected detection probabilities would be affected by changes in breeding behavior and nest attendance associated with breeding phenology. As predicted, I detected heterogeneities in detection probability that were congruous with the breeding season and the timing of surveys. Variability in water temperature was a limiting factor in mudpuppy detection. Highly water temperatures negatively affected detection probabilities (β = -4.56 ± 1.2). Bait influenced mudpuppy detection probability, with baited traps yielding higher detection estimates than light and unbaited traps. Clearly, investing sampling effort early in the season, before females nest and when water temperatures are cooler, is an efficient way to improve the accuracy of parameter estimates in this species. Our findings stress the importance of establishing study designs that take into account the population and behavioral ecology of the focal species.


Navigable waters – Population.

Ohio River – Ecology.

Fishing Baits.

Necturus maculosus – Breeding.