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Differences in an ensemble of streamside salamanders (Plethodontidae) above and below a barrier to brook trout

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I examined the species composition, relative abundances, and size distributions of an ensemble of streamside salamanders in two contiguous sections of an Appalachian headwater stream: one containing brook trout and one that was trout free. The two stream sections were separated by a natural waterfall that formed a permanent barrier to the upstream movement of fish. The two stream sections differed in the overall abundance of salamanders, the relative abundance of the six species present, and the size-distribution of the salamander ensemble. These results suggest that brook trout have an effect on the structure of co-occurring ensembles of salamanders, and that the continued coexistence of stream salamanders with brook trout does not indicate lack of strong ecological interactions.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA


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