Animals found in high densities can have significant influence in nutrient cycles of ecosystems. For example, frogs have been known to influence nutrient cycles in tropical forests. However, research understanding the influence of vertebrates in nutrient cycles of North American forest is limited. It has been found that the biomass of terrestrial salamanders (family Plethodontidae) is higher than that of birds, small mammals, and deer in a New Hampshire forest, and recent studies have found prior estimates of terrestrial salamander densities are likely lower than current estimates using sampling and analysis frameworks to account for imperfect detection. A re-evaluation of the impact plethodontid salamanders could have on forest nutrient cycles is therefore justified. We quantified the degree to which a completely terrestrial, lungless salamander (Plethodon albagula; Western Slimy Salamander) constitutes a standing stock of limiting nutrients in a Missouri, USA forest ecosystem. We utilized values of whole-body nutrient composition of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) of P. albagula and spatially explicit density estimates to approximate the contribution of P. albagula to forest nutrient cycles. We found that estimates of the standing crop nutrients varied spatially across the landscape and were dictated by density of P. albagula. Standing crop estimates were lower than measures for leaf litter, but often were greater than those previously reported for plethodontid salamanders, birds, and in some cases small mammals and deer in North American forests.
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Vol. 104 • No. 1