Leaf Litterbag Sampling for Larval Plethodontid Salamander Populations in Georgia

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Amphibian, Eurycea cirrigera, Larval salamander, Litterbag, Refugia bag, Salamander, Sampling

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Survey techniques for larval salamanders vary in their effectiveness and efficiencies. In this study, the leaf litterbag sampling technique was employed to gather data on larval salamander populations in perennial streams of southern Georgia. Salamanders were collected monthly for 12 months to analyze capture counts and population size-class structure. Simultaneous dipnet sweep data were used to examine potential count data biases of the leaf litterbag sampling technique. In both leaf litterbag and dipnet sweep surveys, adult and larval Southern Twolined Salamanders (Eurycea cirrigera) and larval Southern Red Salamanders (Pseudotriton ruber) were sampled. In leaf litterbags, larval E. cirrigera were captured most frequently, followed by adult E. cirrigera and larval P. ruber, respectively. However, the efficiency of collecting adult E. cirrigera and larval P. ruber could not be determined because of small sample sizes. Larval E. cirrigera counts detected from leaf litterbags were frequently lower than those associated with dipnet sweeps, suggesting that the former may underestimate larval salamander counts. Leaf litterbags successfully detected all E. cirrigera size-classes (i.e., first-year, second-year, and adult), further indicating that larvae in Georgia spend 2 years in the aquatic phase. Leaf litterbags are an effective method of sampling larval salamanders when used to assess species assemblage and age-class distribution.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, v. 132, issue 1-3, p. 509-515