The effects of urbanization on body size of larval stream salamanders

Mason O. Murphy, Mickey Agha, Thomas A. Maigret, Steven J. Price, Michael E. Dorcas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Animal body sizes in urban areas often differ from nearby rural areas, which may impact population fitness and dynamics. We examined the effects of urbanization on larval body sizes of two species of salamanders, the two-lined salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) and the northern dusky salamander (Desmognathus fuscus). Specifically, we utilized a before-after control-impact (BACI) study design which allowed for the assessment of differences in larval body size between multiple control and impacted sites over a 5 year period. We found a decrease in larval body size in both species at the impacted sites compared to control sites in the first year after urbanization, followed by generally larger body sizes in urban sites compared to control sites in years 3–5, and significantly so in year 4. Using generalized linear models, we found support that larger body sizes post impact in urbanized streams may be due to warmer stream water temperature and decreased abundance of larvae. Both E. cirrigera and D. fuscus are well known for their ability to persist in urbanized streams; our data suggest that despite overall lower abundances in urban streams, persistence may be due to increases in larval body size and, potentially, post-metamorphic benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-286
Number of pages12
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Abundance
  • Before-after control-impact (BACI)
  • Desmognathus
  • Eurycea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


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