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1 March 2008 NEST SITE SELECTION AND EMBRYONIC SURVIVAL IN FOUR-TOED SALAMANDERS, HEMIDACTYLIUM SCUTATUM (CAUDATA: PLETHODONTIDAE)
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Abstract

Nest site selection occurs when females place eggs at sites that differ from random sites within a delimited area. Selection of components of the microhabitat that increase embryonic survival is expected. Female four-toed salamanders, Hemidactylium scutatum, at two montane study ponds in Virginia selected nesting locations that had more moss, grass, and other living vegetation than found in other locations around the pond. In addition, selected nest sites had steeper bank angles and average lower pH's than other sites and were more often found facing north than expected by chance. Of the variables selected by H. scutatum when choosing a nest site, bank angle, nest aspect, and pH were correlated with embryonic survival. We found that north-facing nests were cooler than south-facing nests. Embryonic survival was highest in nests on steep slopes that faced north with lower average temperatures and that had lower pH's. A third pond that historically had fewer nesting females and was characterized by low embryonic survival did not have nesting habitats that combined steep bank angles with a northerly aspect. When constructing ponds for wildlife in areas where H. scutatum is of special concern, we suggest that steep bank angles be situated so that they face north.

George W. Wahl, Reid N. Harris, and Tracie Nelms "NEST SITE SELECTION AND EMBRYONIC SURVIVAL IN FOUR-TOED SALAMANDERS, HEMIDACTYLIUM SCUTATUM (CAUDATA: PLETHODONTIDAE)," Herpetologica 64(1), 12-19, (1 March 2008). https://doi.org/10.1655/06-082.1
Accepted: 1 August 2007; Published: 1 March 2008
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