Humans are increasingly altering forested habitats, in part by forestry practices, but also in more subtle ways such as creation of recreational trailways through forested areas, especially in nature preserves and parks. The effect of these trails on wildlife has only recently begun to be addressed. In this paper, I hypothesize that trails alter the distribution of terrestrial salamanders in forested habitats. The routine clearing of fallen trees from trailways may act to increase microhabitat availability for salamanders around trails, and thus move salamanders closer to the trails, or salamanders may simply stay away from trails in general to avoid disturbance associated with humans. To address this issue, I conducted a 3-month study in a nature preserve in northeast Georgia, using standardized, paired surveys of cover objects (logs and stones) in 78 m2 plots along trails and in similar plots 25 m away from trails. I found significantly more logs in along-trail plots versus off, but there was no difference in stone abundance. There were more salamanders under logs in along-trail plots versus off-trail, but on a per-log basis, there was no significant difference between along-versus off-trails, suggesting that trails result in more microhabitats for salamanders around them, not that salamanders move closer to trails per se.
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