Terrestrial wildlife in the post-mined appalachian landscape: Status and opportunities

Christopher M. Lituma, John J. Cox, Stephen F. Spear, John W. Edwards, Jesse L. de la Cruz, Lisa I. Muller, W. Mark Ford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Coal mining is an anthropogenic stressor that has impacted terrestrial and semi-aquatic wildlife in the Appalachian Plateau since European settlement. Creation of grassland and early-successional habitats resulting from mining in a forested landscape has resulted in novel, non-analog habitat conditions. Depending on the taxa, the extent of mining on the landscape, and reclamation practices, effects have ranged across a gradient of negative to positive. Forest-obligate species such as woodland salamanders and forest-interior birds or those that depend on aquatic systems in their life cycle have been most impacted. Others, such as grassland and early-successional bird species have responded favorably. Some bat species, as an unintended consequence, use legacy deep mines as winter hibernacula in a region with limited karst geology. Recolonization of impacted wildlife often depends on life strategies and species' vagility, but also on altered or arrested successional processes on the post-surface mine landscape. Many wildlife species will benefit from Forest Reclamation Approach practices going forward. In the future, managers will be faced with decisions about reforestation versus maintaining open habitats depending on the conservation need of species. Lastly, the post-mined landscape currently is the focal point for a regional effort to restore elk (Cervus canadensis) in the Appalachians.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAppalachia's Coal-Mined Landscapes
Subtitle of host publicationResources and Communities in a New Energy Era
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9783030577803
StatePublished - Nov 25 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021.


  • Bats
  • Elk
  • Forest reclamation approach
  • Forest-obligate birds
  • Grassland birds
  • Salamanders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • General Engineering


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