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Amphibian use of man-made pools on clear-cuts in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia, USA

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image of Applied Herpetology

Timber harvesting can alter habitats of forest-dwelling species and these alterations can be highly detrimental to species such as amphibians that are intimately associated with habitat temperature and moisture regimes. Consequently, information on conservation practices that can reduce impacts on these species can be useful to prevent local extinctions. Twenty-two of 40 pools constructed by the Fernow Experimental Station, USDA Northern Research Station, Parsons, West Virginia in 1993 on primitive haul roads in two clearcut areas on McGowan Mountain, Tucker County, WV were monitored for 3 years to determine their potential use by anurans. Monthly samples (April through September) of water chemistry and amphibian captures were taken to evaluate amphibian use of these pools. Anurans that used the pools to breed were Bufo americanus americanus, Rana sylvatica, Psuedacris brachyphona, and Hyla chrysoscelis. Desmognathus ochrophaeus and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus were also found in ponds but no evidence of breeding was discovered. By 1994, 14 of the 22 pools that held water were used by anurans for reproduction. Species richness of anurans that bred in pools was primarily dependent on pond depth. Man-made small but deep ponds placed carefully such that their hydroperiods are long enough for larvae to complete development (i.e., near seepages) provides breeding habitat for some frogs species, as well as refugia for non-breeding frogs and salamanders in clear-cut areas. Pools constructed at strategic locations on primitive roads have the potential to reduce adverse impacts of timber harvesting on some amphibian populations.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Marshall University, 600 Hal Greer Blvd., Huntington, WV 25755, USA;, Email:; 2: Department of Biology, Marshall University, 600 Hal Greer Blvd., Huntington, WV 25755, USA; 3: Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA


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