Title

Orientation of movements and habitat selection in a spatially structured population of Marbled Salamanders (Ambystoma opacum)

Publication Date

2006

Journal or Book Title

JOURNAL OF HERPETOLOGY

Abstract

Most studies on orientation of movements of pond-breeding salamanders have considered only a single local population (or breeding pond) during ≥1 yr, or multiple populations during a single year. We quantified migratory patterns of Marbled Salamanders at nine breeding ponds during 5 yr in western Massachusetts. Based on captures at drift fences, movements were nonuniform at all breeding ponds. In addition, the direction of orientation differed among breeding ponds and changed slightly across years. Within ponds, orientation of adults and juveniles differed significantly in 52% of comparisons, and adult movements were more directionally concentrated than those of juveniles. In addition, migrating salamanders shifted slightly the orientation of their movements as they traveled into uplands, suggesting that migration routes are spatially complex and that determination of migration “corridors” based on concentrated captures at the pond periphery may be misleading. Although salamanders used migration routes with higher canopy cover, our models did not explain a large portion of the variation in orientation, and protecting areas of high canopy cover alone may not be sufficient as a protection strategy. Our results suggest that movement routes, though perhaps concentrated in the short term, are unpredictable in the long term. Thus, we can offer little evidence that distinct corridors can be identified and protected that would be used consistently over time by migrating or dispersing Marbled Salamanders. Consequently, until we better understand mechanisms governing movements in this species, a conservative conservation strategy would require protecting broad terrestrial areas around breeding sites.

DOI

10.1670/165-05A.1

Volume

40

Issue

2

Pages

240-248

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