Effects of Urbanization on Stream Salamander Habitat Selection: An Experimental Study
Dominguez, Kristin A.
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Conservation of headwater streams, and the biota associated with them, is becoming more important as many streams are being “urbanized” with an increase in construction and development in their surrounding areas. Biota living in headwater streams serve as nutrient processors and help maintain water quality and stream health, not just for lower order streams, but also for larger order streams and rivers. One such animal is Eurycea bislineata (Fig. 1), the northern two-lined salamander. These salamanders are common in lower order streams in the northeastern United States and have an aquatic larval stage lasting two years or more. In this experimental study, we tested the effects of three common consequences of urbanization of larval Eurycea bislineata and their macroinvertebrate prey during summer 2006, as follows: 1) the presence of concrete in streams which may release alkali 2) the removal of riparian forests which decreases vegetation, and reduces habitat structure and allochtonous nutrient supply to the stream, and 3) an increase in loose sediment flow into the stream which may increase the embeddedness, or compactness, of the stream substrate. Specifically, we tested whether or not salamander abundance is reduced in presence of concrete, salamander density is higher in non-embedded habitats and in the presence of leaf litter, and whether or not salamander colonization is due to an interaction between non-embedded treatments and the presence of leaf litter.