- Monti, Laura
University of Maine Graduate School
The redback salamander, Plethodon cinereus, is one of the most abundant vertebrates in eastern North American forests, with densities often exceeding 1 per m2. Given its numbers and sensitivity to habitat conditions, it may be useful as a bioindicator of environmental degradation. Prior to using redbacks in this way, their habitat preferences in a variety of locations should be assessed, and an effective method of monitoring their density should be developed.
At the Holt Research Forest (HRF) in Arrowsic, ME, 60 redback salamander census sites were established in 1988. Each station consists of six 10x25cm cedar shingles under which redbacks retreat to avoid desiccation. The stations are checked for salamander every other week from May through September. With data from 1989 through 1995, I used multiple regression to correlate spatial patterns of salamander abundance with characteristics of the vegetation and soil around the stations. I also performed experiments in 1996 to address relationships between salamander abundance and coarse woody debris, O horizon pZH and moisture, and overstory cover.