Georgia Journal of Science


Existing research has demonstrated that forest management practices (e.g., clear-cutting, planting) can dramatically impact animal communities. This is particularly the case with amphibian populations due to their sensitivity to microhabitat alterations. However, few studies have investigated the manner by which forest management practices impact the abiotic variables most relevant to healthy amphibian populations. In this study we investigated how spatially localized forest management practices (i.e., at the scale of hundreds of meters) alter the microhabitat variables that have been shown important to amphibian population distributions. We assessed the relationship between forest composition and microhabitat abiotic variables across three localities with differing management histories in Lumpkin County, Georgia. Site A consisted solely of systematically distributed planted pines, Site B was composed of planted pine and mixed hardwoods, and Site C contained only mixed hardwoods. To quantitatively assess these differences in forest composition, we conducted a point-centered quarter tree survey at each locality and measured ambient temperature, soil temperature, air humidity, light intensity, and soil pH daily over a 60-day period. Our results indicate that soil moisture and pH differ across these localities. These data suggest that even at highly resolved spatial scales, forest management practices can dramatically impact the suitability of microhabitats for amphibian populations. This localized impact should be considered more broadly, but especially in regions with particularly dense amphibian populations


We want to thank the University of North Georgia (UNG) CURCA and FUSE program and the UNG Biology Department for research funding for this project, and the UNG SCALE Lab students who assisted in field work and sampling for salamanders. We thank Michael Bender for thoughtful discussions throughout the duration of this project. This research was conducted under the Georgia Department of Natural Resources scientific collecting permit (100676246).