Examining the diet of salamanders is important for understanding their effects on invertebrate communities and the interactions among sympatric salamander species. We examined the diet of the Cumberland Plateau Salamander, Plethodon kentucki (Mittleman), in an old growth forest in southeastern Kentucky. A total of 763 prey items were recovered from 73 salamanders with an average of 10.75 prey items per stomach. The four most important prey groups were Formicidae (ants), Araneae (spiders), Coleoptera (beetles), and Collembola (springtails). Overall, we found a total of 58 different prey types in the stomach contents from 20 invertebrate orders. This study represents one of the few successful uses of nonlethal gastric lavage methods on a large plethodontid salamander and the first description of P. kentucki diet identified to family and genus. Future work should examine diet throughout the year, compare prey species composition to sympatric salamander species, and look at local prey abundances and diversity to explore salamander foraging behavior.
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Vol. 178 • No. 1