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Environments 2017, 4(1), 8; doi:10.3390/environments4010008

Response of Red-Backed Salamanders (Plethodon Cinereus) to Changes in Hemlock Forest Soil Driven by Invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges Tsugae)

1
Mount Holyoke College, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075, USA
2
Harvard Forest, Harvard University, 324 N. Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366, USA
3
Faculty of Forestry, University of Khartoum, Khartoum North 13314, Khartoum State, Sudan
4
Department of Biometry and Environmental Systems Analysis, University of Freiburg, Tennenbacher Str. 4, Freiburg 79106, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Yu-Pin Lin
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 30 December 2016 / Accepted: 16 January 2017 / Published: 21 January 2017
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Abstract

Hemlock forests of the northeastern United States are declining due to the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) (Adelges tsugae). Hardwood species replace these forests, which affects soil properties that may influence other communities, such as red-backed salamanders (red-backs) (Plethodon cinereus). This study examined the effects of HWA invasion on soil properties and how this affects red-backs at the Hemlock Removal Experiment at Harvard Forest, which consists of eight 0.8 ha plots treated with girdling to simulate HWA invasion, logging to simulate common management practices, or hemlock- or hardwood-dominated controls. Coverboard surveys were used to determine the relative abundance of red-backs between plots during June and July 2014 and soil cores were collected from which the bulk density, moisture, pH, temperature, leaf litter, and carbon-nitrogen ratio were measured. Ordination provided a soil quality index based on temperature, pH, and carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, which was significantly different between plot treatments (p < 0.05) and showed a significant negative correlation with the red-back relative abundance (p < 0.05). The findings support the hypothesis that red-backs are affected by soil quality, which is affected by plot treatment and thus HWA invasion. Further studies should explore how salamanders react in the long term towards changing environments and consider the use of red-backs as indicator species. View Full-Text
Keywords: invasive species; Plethodon cinereus; soil; hemlock forest; Adelges tsugae invasive species; Plethodon cinereus; soil; hemlock forest; Adelges tsugae
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ochs, A.; Siddig, A.A.H. Response of Red-Backed Salamanders (Plethodon Cinereus) to Changes in Hemlock Forest Soil Driven by Invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (Adelges Tsugae). Environments 2017, 4, 8.

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