Conservation of terrestrial salamanders requires consideration for landscape-level features and processes; and, therefore, tools are needed to support planning at large spatial scales. We assessed terrestrial salamander distribution patterns using an existing salamander data set and two previously developed landscape-level spatial tools, a landscape classification (LC) model and flow accumulation (FLOW) model, both based on 100-m2 pixels. The LC model assigned each pixel to one of eight categories defined by slope, aspect and landform. The FLOW model assigned each pixel to one of five categories based on the number of 100-m2 cells that drained into a given cell. Salamander data had been collected in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia during 2001–2003 on 543 100-m2 plots located along random transects. Using area-constrained searches we collected 1879 individuals of eleven species. Plethodon cinereus, Desmognathus ochrophaeus, D. monticola and D. fuscus represented 92.8% of all captures. All plots were georeferenced and associated with one of the LC and FLOW categories. Because of non-normally distributed data, we used a Friedman rank sum test to compare treatment means. Total captures (P < 0.001), total mass (P = 0.001) and species richness (P = 0.001) differed among LC categories and total captures (P = 0.010), and species richness (P = 0.007) differed among FLOW categories. Species diversity did not differ among LC or FLOW categories (P > 0.27 and 0.26, respectively). Body Mass Index (BMI; mass/snout-vent length) was calculated for the four most abundant species and differed (P < 0.05) among LC or FLOW categories for P. cinereus, D. ochrophaeus and D. fuscus for at least one sex-age class. In several cases, BMI was higher at sites with low total captures and mass. These results suggest that commonly available and easily derived tools such as LC and FLOW models may be valuable as landscape planning tools and warrant further exploration.
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Vol. 166 • No. 1