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In Mount Rainier National Park, the northwestern salamander usually inhabits relatively large and deep lakes and ponds (average size = 0.3 ha; average depth > 2 m) that contain flocculent, organic bottom sediments and abundant coarse wood. Prior to 1970, salmonids were introduced into many of the park's lakes and ponds that were typical habitat of the northwestern salamander. The objective of this study was to compare, in lakes and ponds with suitable habitat characteristics for northwestern salamanders, the observed abundances of larvae in takes and ponds with and without these introduced salmonids. Day surveys of 61 lakes were conducted between 1993 and 1999. Fish were limited to takes and ponds deeper than 2 in. For the 48 lakes and ponds deeper than 2 in (i.e., 25 fishless lakes and 23 fish lakes), the mean and median observed abundances of northwestern salamander larvae in fishless lakes and ponds was significantly greater than the mean and median observed abundances of larvae in lakes and ponds with fish. Northwestern salamander larvae were not observed in 11 fish lakes. These lakes were similar in median elevation, surface area, and maximum depth to the fishless lakes. The 12 fish lakes with observed larvae were significantly lower in median elevation, larger in median surface area, and deeper in median maximum depth than the fishless lakes. Low to null observed abundances of northwestern salamander larvae in lakes and ponds with fish were attributed to a combination of fish predation of larvae and changes in larval behavior.
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Abundances of northwestern salamander larvae in montane lakes with and without fish, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington