Benjamin E. Sadler and Kristen K. Cecala

Lungless salamanders in family Plethodontidae rely on cutaneous respiration that influences habitat selection. Refuge from warm, dry microclimates on the Cumberland Plateau may be found in crevices within sandstone and limestone bluffs where plethodontids are frequently found. The objective of our study was to describe patterns of crevice occupancy by plethodontid salamanders on the southern Cumberland Plateau. We surveyed 6.5 km of bluff habitat and measured geographical and micro-environmental factors at capture and random locations. We found seven species of plethodontid salamanders using crevice habitats, but only three species were abundant enough for statistical analyses. Green salamander (Aneides aeneus) occupancy was poorly explained by most of our measured variables, although it was positively associated with warmer temperatures. Northern slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) occupancy was primarily associated with cooler temperatures and the presence of water. Cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga) occupancy was positively associated with forest cover. Lungless salamanders of the Cumberland Plateau may use crevice habitat facultatively as one mechanism to avoid warm and dry conditions in the summer.

 

Key Words.—Crevice, Cumberland Plateau, Distribution, Microclimate, Occupancy, Plethodontidae, Green Salamander