Small streams are a high priority for conservation and an important target for biomonitoring. Stream salamanders are a useful indicator for biotic integrity of headwater streams; however, assessing stream salamanders is a challenging endeavor and existing methods can cause habitat disturbance or require expensive equipment. Our goal was to develop an artificial habitat that mimics the natural habitat that salamanders prefer, leading to rapid colonization and that also (1) represents a standardized area and (2) is easy to handle for rapid assessment. After developing a new artificial habitat (the Maloney Salamander Hotel), we tested the device in a variety of streams and compared our method with other techniques. After a series of field tests in a variety of streams through multiple seasons, we found that stream salamanders will colonize the apparatus and that this method yielded results similar or superior to other methods. For efficient and relatively simple assessment, our results indicate that three devices, left in streams for 3 d, should provide a reliable assessment of salamander presence. The device is relatively inexpensive, simple to build, easily handled for efficient deployment and collection, and does not harm the salamanders. We hope the development of this device provides a useful innovation for biological consultants, land managers, and researchers interested in assessing salamander presence in streams.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4