We studied an Ambystoma maculatum (Spotted Salamander) population whose available terrestrial habitat varied in forest age, forest extent, and edge type to determine how microhabitats differed among habitats, whether A. maculatum displayed a nonrandom distribution of inbound capture locations, and whether individuals captured in different locations differed in age, body condition, and annual recapture rate. In this study, we use inbound capture location to infer direction of migration. Given this inference and the results of principle components analyses on surrounding habitat variables, we suggest that habitat differences in relation to litter depth, canopy cover, and soil water content best described the nonrandom distribution of A. maculatum captures. Differences in forest extent and edge type may also have contributed substantially to the A. maculatum migration capture pattern. Female salamanders arriving from the direction of the relatively mature, extensive forested habitat were significantly older than those arriving from the direction of the mature habitat with an agricultural edge, but there were no age differences among males. Body condition and annual recapture rates were similar among individuals regardless of capture location. Consistent with other work, we suggest that habitat protection efforts for A. maculatum, and similar species, should focus on extensive, forested habitat, with high levels of leaf litter and canopy cover and well-drained soils. Additionally, residential and agricultural edges may be more permeable than road edges for this species.
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