Stream salamanders are sensitive to acid mine drainage and may be sensitive to acidification and low acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) of a watershed. Streams in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, are subject to episodic acidification from precipitation events. We surveyed 25 m by 2 m transects located on the stream bank adjacent to the water channel in Shenandoah National Park for salamanders using a stratified random sampling design based on elevation, aspect and bedrock geology. We investigated the relationships of four species (Eurycea bislineata, Desmognathus fuscus, D. monticola and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus) to habitat and water quality variables. We did not find overwhelming evidence that stream salamanders are affected by the acid-base status of streams in Shenandoah National Park. Desmognathus fuscus and D. monticola abundance was greater both in streams that had a higher potential to neutralize acidification, and in higher elevation (>700 m) streams. Neither abundance of E. bislineata nor species richness were related to any of the habitat variables. Our sampling method preferentially detected the adult age class of the study species and did not allow us to estimate population sizes. We suggest that continued monitoring of stream salamander populations in SNP will determine the effects of stream acidification on these taxa.
Additional publication details
Stream salamander species richness and abundance in relation to environmental factors in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia