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Forests 2017, 8(1), 10; doi:10.3390/f8010010

Buffer-Mediated Effects of Clearcutting on In-Pool Amphibian Productivity: Can Aquatic Processes Compensate for Terrestrial Habitat Disturbance?

Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, 56 College Road, Durham, NH 03824, USA
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Academic Editor: Deanna H. Olson
Received: 10 October 2016 / Revised: 15 December 2016 / Accepted: 19 December 2016 / Published: 24 December 2016
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Abstract

Natural resource extraction and wildlife conservation are often perceived as incompatible. For wetland-dependent amphibians, forested buffers may mitigate timber-harvest impacts, but little empirical research has focused on buffers around lentic habitats. We conducted a landscape experiment to examine how spotted salamander and wood frog reproductive output (i.e., eggmass and metamorph production) respond to clearcutting mediated by buffers of different widths (i.e., uncut, 30 m buffer, 100 m buffer) at ephemeral pools in an industrial forest. We found complex interactions between buffer treatment and reproductive output, which were strongly mediated by hydroperiod. Overall, reproductive output was most sensitive at 30 m-buffer pools and for salamanders, but responses diverged across productivity metrics even within these categories. Notably, for both cut treatments over time, while salamander eggmass abundance decreased, metamorph productivity (i.e., snout-vent length [SVL] and abundance) tended to increase. For example, average metamorph SVLs were predicted to lengthen between 0.2 and 0.4 mm per year post-cut. Additionally, typical relationships between reproductive output and hydroperiod (as indicated by the reference treatment) were disrupted for both species in both cut treatments. For example, long-hydroperiod pools produced more salamander metamorphs than short-hydroperiod pools in both the reference and 30 m-buffer treatments, but the rate of increase was lower in the 30 m-buffer treatment such that a long-hydroperiod pool in the reference treatment was predicted to produce, on average, 24 more metamorphs than a similar pool in the 30 m-buffer treatment. From a conservation perspective, our results highlight the importance of evaluating both terrestrial and aquatic responses to terrestrial habitat disturbance, since responses may be reinforcing (i.e., exert similarly positive or negative effects, with the potential for amplification in the aquatic habitat) or decoupled (i.e., operate independently or be negatively correlated, with responses in the aquatic habitat potentially dampening or counteracting responses in the terrestrial habitat). View Full-Text
Keywords: Ambystoma maculatum; eggmass; ephemeral pool; hydroperiod; Lithobates sylvaticus; metamorph; reproductive output Ambystoma maculatum; eggmass; ephemeral pool; hydroperiod; Lithobates sylvaticus; metamorph; reproductive output
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Veysey Powell, J.S.; Babbitt, K.J. Buffer-Mediated Effects of Clearcutting on In-Pool Amphibian Productivity: Can Aquatic Processes Compensate for Terrestrial Habitat Disturbance? Forests 2017, 8, 10.

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