For many amphibian species of conservation concern, our understanding of drivers of distribution and abundance are based on data collected at only a few localities. Thus, landscape-scale efforts are needed to better inform management and species conservation. The Streamside Salamander (Ambystoma barbouri) is a global conservation priority because of its restricted geographic distribution and presumed sensitivity to forest loss, yet landscape-scale studies have not occurred. We surveyed a 16-county area in Kentucky (USA) and examined the influence of catchment (forest, agriculture, and urban) and local-scale (water chemistry and sunfish presence) variables on A. barbouri occupancy and abundance. We sampled 80 streams across different land cover types (i.e., 30 agriculture, 34 forested, and 16 urban) over 2 yrs (2017–2018). Within these streams, we identified 56 new localities. Estimated mean occupancy (Ψ = 0.91; credible interval [CI] = 0.76–0.99) was high. Streams with the highest estimated abundances were those without sunfish and containing >50% forested or agricultural land cover within their catchments; urban streams had the lowest estimated abundances. At sites where we did not detect sunfish, there were an estimated 35.25 (95% CI = 32.04–38.67) A. barbouri individuals per 10 m in forested sites, 22.47 (95% CI = 19.86–25.14) in agricultural sites, and 0.66 (95% CI = 0.14–1.59) in urban sites. Water chemistry varied across site types; however, only maximum sodium (β = –0.51, 95% CI = –0.58 to –0.43) was associated with A. barbouri abundance. If managing this species becomes necessary, minimizing urban development within low-order stream catchments should be a priority.
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Vol. 54 • No. 3