Intensively-managed forest (IMF) ecosystems support environmental processes, retain biodiversity and reduce pressure to extract wood products from other forests, but may affect species, such as plethodontid salamanders, that are associated with closed canopies and possess limited vagility. We describe: (1) critical aspects of IMF ecosystems; (2) effectiveness of plethodontid salamanders as barometers of forest change; (3) two case studies of relationships between salamanders and coarse woody debris (CWD); and (4) research needs for effective management of salamanders in IMF ecosystems. Although plethodontid salamanders are sensitive to microclimate changes, their role as ecological indicators rarely have been evaluated quantitatively. Our case studies of CWD and salamanders in western and eastern forests demonstrated effects of species, region and spatial scale on the existence and strength of relationships between plethodontid species and a “critical” microhabitat variable. Oregon slender salamanders (Batrachoseps wrighti
) were more strongly associated with abundance of CWD in managed second growth forests than ensatina salamanders (Ensatina eschscholtzii
). Similarly, CWD was not an important predictor of abundance of Appalachian salamanders in managed hardwood forest. Gaining knowledge of salamanders in IMF ecosystems is critical to reconciling ecological and economic objectives of intensive forest management, but faces challenges in design and implementation.
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