Amphibian Community Dynamics During Longleaf Pine Restoration
Wenzel, Ryan M.
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A long term restoration plan developed by The Nature Conservancy is underway on the Bonnie Doone Tract in Colleton County, South Carolina. This restoration plan includes several activities designed to restore the native longleaf pine and wiregrass ecosystem, with goals to restore, possibly via reintroduction, the endangered flatwoods salamander to this portion of its historic range. Eleven wetland sites within four restoration treatments were sampled to compare the short-term ecological effects of longleaf pine restoration activities on the amphibian community, and determine how vegetative structure and water depth in wetlands affect amphibian diversity. I observed 20 amphibian species (six caudate, fourteen anuran) among the sampled wetlands. Total amphibian, anuran and caudate abundance, as well as water depth, were significantly higher in the three treatments that had been managed with clearcutting or thinning, burning, and under-planting with longleaf pine and wiregrass, as compared with the fourth treatment, which experienced no harvesting, no burning and no under-planting. Both caudate and anuran species were found more frequently in areas with greater water depth and abundant overstory hardwood composition in wetlands, but anurans were associated with less leaf litter while caudates were associated with less midstory cover and less midstory shrub cover.