There is little known about how timber harvest practices have affected terrestrial amphibians in the northern Rocky Mountains. Especially lacking is information on the effects of revised harvest methods that fall within the framework of environmental or New Forestry. We estimated the relative abundance of a common forest amphibian, the long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum) captured in pitfall arrays on intact, environmentally harvested, and overstory-removal harvested sites in mixed-conifer forests of western Montana. Pitfall data from 1994 through 1996 showed that previously logged sites contained significantly fewer long-toed salamanders regardless of harvest method used. The number of salamanders captured on intact sites (3.1 salamanders·[array]−1·[100 d]−1) was nearly three times the number captured on logged sites (1.2 salamanders·[array]−1·[100 d]−1). Habitat conditions measured in conjunction with trapping efforts indicated that lower amphibian abundance was associated with decreased numbers of large live trees. Declines in amphibian abundance occurred in the absence of changes in understory vegetation that typically occur when forest canopy is reduced. Our findings suggest that long-toed salamanders responded to changes in the physical environment, probably increased temperatures and decreased moisture. That salamanders should respond so dramatically indicates that immediate changes in physical conditions may profoundly alter habitat quality even when other components of the habitat are unaffected.
Copyright 2000 by the Ecological Society of America. George P. Naughton, Colin B. Henderson, Kerry R. Foresman, and Rex L. McGraw II 2000. LONG-TOED SALAMANDERS IN HARVESTED AND INTACT DOUGLAS-FIR FORESTS OF WESTERN MONTANA. Ecological Applications 10:1681–1689. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(2000)010[1681:LTSIHA]2.0.CO;2.