Stream-obligate amphibians are important indicators of ecosystem health in the Pacific Northwest, but distributional information to improve forest management is lacking in many regions. We analyzed archived DNA extracted from water samples in 60 pools in streams on private timberlands in Mendocino County, California, for 3 California Species of Special Concern—Coastal Tailed Frogs (Ascaphus truei), Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs (Rana boylii), and Southern Torrent Salamanders (Rhyacotriton variegatus)—to better understand their distributions in the region. Detection probabilities for eDNA of Foothill Yellow-legged Frogs and Coastal Tailed Frogs were positively influenced by water temperature. eDNA occurrence for both frogs was affected by whether silt or organic matter was a dominant substrate in the sampled pool, and Foothill Yellow-legged Frog eDNA occurrence was also affected by water temperature. Foothill Yellow-legged Frog eDNA occurrence had a strong, positive association with water temperature, with occurrence unlikely below 14°C and very likely above 16°C, and a positive association with silt or organic substrates in pools, which was likely an indicator of higher-order stream reaches. In contrast, Coastal Tailed Frogs had a negative association with silt or organic substrates. Historical visual detections were generally congruent with findings using eDNA, but differences highlight important areas for further study. We did not detect Southern Torrent Salamanders using eDNA at any sites. Our study reinforces that ecological relationships of these species are varied, and shows the importance of maintaining the integrity of streams with diverse characteristics for conserving stream amphibians.
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Vol. 101 • No. 3