Effects of timber harvest within streamside management zones on salamander populations in ephemeral streams of southeastern Kentucky

Thomas A. Maigret, John J. Cox, Dylan R. Schneider, Chris D. Barton, Steven J. Price, Jeffery L. Larkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Timber harvest is an important extractive, economic activity to many human economies, but it can be detrimental to ecosystem function and species viability therein by degrading and fragmenting forest habitat. Salamanders comprise a significant amount of forest community biomass, and given their sensitivity to environmental stressors, including those caused by timber harvest, they often serve as important indicators of declines in forest ecosystem function. Several studies have focused on the impacts of timber harvest on salamanders inhabiting perennial and intermittent streams, the findings of which have helped inform best management practices for timber harvest in the U.S. Ephemeral headwater streams and associated riparia account for a small fraction of the total landscape, yet these features are critical to the functioning of forested ecosystems; however, few studies have examined how timber harvest impacts salamanders in or near these areas. Our objective was to investigate the effects of three different silvicultural treatments, each involving different streamside management zone (SMZ) characteristics, on salamander communities in southeastern Kentucky hardwood forest ephemeral streams. Data were collected by regular checks of pitfall traps, coverboards, and transect searches. Using both pre- and post-harvest data, abundance estimates were acquired using binomial mixture models. Declines in some species of terrestrial and stream-breeding salamanders were detected, and were shown to be likely related to characteristics of the corresponding silvicultural treatment. We suggest that application of modest SMZ regulations to ephemeral streams would likely reduce or alleviate salamander declines in these important headwater areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-51
Number of pages6
JournalForest Ecology and Management
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We must thank Robinson Forest staff for assistance with field data collection, especially Chris Osborne, Ted Sizemore, David Collett, and the late Will Marshall. This work was supported in part by the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and the SB 271 Water Quality Program. Research was conducted under animal care protocol 01052A006 approved by the University of Kentucky Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. We also thank W. Peterman and two anonymous reviewers for their comments and feedback.


  • Amphibians
  • Best management practices
  • Binomial mixture model
  • Headwater stream
  • Mixed-mesophytic forest
  • Stream buffer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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