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1 January 1998 Response of Herpetofaunal Communities to Forest Cutting and Burning at Chesapeake Farms, Maryland
Roderick F. McLeod, J. Edward Gates
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Abstract

The distribution and abundance of amphibians and reptiles in forest stands subjected to salvage cutting and prescribed burning were compared with their unmanaged counterparts. The study was conducted on the Atlantic coastal plain at Chesapeake Farms near Chestertown, Maryland. Three herpetofaunal trapping arrays were systematically located in each of four forest stand types: hardwood (Hardwood), cut-over hardwood (Cut), mixed pine-hardwood (Pine) and prescribed burn pine (Burn). A total of 3931 individuals representing 29 species were captured in 30,540 trap nights during the spring and summer 1992 and 1993. Felling of hardwoods and prescribed burning of pine resulted in similar responses from the herpetofaunal communitites; Hardwood had the most distinctive herpetofaunal community of the four stands. Adults and young-of-the-year (YOY) of six amphibian species were significantly more abundant in Hardwood than Cut. Only one amphibian species, Pseudacris triseriata, was less abundant in Hardwood than Cut. Total ranid captures did not differ between Hardwood and Cut. Snake and total reptile captures, and Elaphe obsoleta and Eumeces faciatus abundances were significantly less in Hardwood than Cut. Hardwood also had fewer small mammals than Cut, particularly Microtus pennsylvanicus and Zapus hudsonius, that might serve as prey for large snakes. Adults of four amphibian species, YOY of five amphibian species, and three reptiles (Carphophis amoenus, Storeria dekayi and Thamnophis sirtalis) were significantly more abundant in Pine than Burn; two reptile species (Coluber constrictor and Lampropeltis getula) were significantly less abundant. Potential small mammal prey of the latter two snakes were not significantly different between Pine and Burn; however, Zapus hudsonius was less abundant in Pine than in Burn. More amphibians were captured in Hardwood and Pine stands than in their respective logged and burned counterparts. The trend for reptiles tended to depend on the mix of species present and their habitat preferences. Greater canopy cover and depth of leaf litter in Hardwood and Pine stands likely had a moderating effect on temperature and helped to maintain a moist microenvironment for mesophilic species. Disturbance of a small patch of forest could locally decrease herpetofaunal diversity, but diversity on a much larger scale would likely increase.

Roderick F. McLeod and J. Edward Gates "Response of Herpetofaunal Communities to Forest Cutting and Burning at Chesapeake Farms, Maryland," The American Midland Naturalist 139(1), 164-177, (1 January 1998). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031(1998)139[0164:ROHCTF]2.0.CO;2
Received: 12 June 1996; Accepted: 1 July 1997; Published: 1 January 1998
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