Urbanization has become the dominant form of landscape disturbance in parts of the United States. Small streams in the Piedmont region of the eastern United States support high densities of salamanders and are often the first habitats to be affected by landscape-altering factors such as urbanization. We used US Geological Survey land cover data from 1972 to 2000 and a relation between stream salamanders and land cover, established from recent research, to estimate the impact of contemporary land-cover change on the abundance of stream salamanders near Davidson, North Carolina, a Piedmont locale that has experienced rapid urbanization during this time. Our analysis indicates that southern two-lined salamander (Eurycea cirrigera) populations have decreased from 32% to 44% while northern dusky salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus) have decreased from 21% to 30% over the last three decades. Our results suggest that the widespread conversion of forest to urban land in small catchments has likely resulted in a substantial decline of populations of stream salamanders and could have serious effects on stream ecosystems. ?? 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Three decades of urbanization: Estimating the impact of land-cover change on stream salamander populations