Herpetofaunal response to gap and skidder-rut wetland creation in a southern bottomland hardwood forest

Robert B. Cromer, Joseph D. Lanham, Hugh H. Hanlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We compared herpetofaunal communities in recently harvested gaps, skidder trails, and unharvested depressional wetlands to assess the effects of group-selection harvesting and skidder traffic on reptiles and amphibians in a southern bottomland hardwood forest. From January 1, 1997 to December 31, 1998 we captured 24,292 individuals representing 55 species of reptiles and amphibians at the Savannah River Site in Barnwell County, South Carolina. Forty-two species (n = 6,702 individuals) were captured in gaps, 43 species (n = 8,863 individuals) were captured along skid trails between gaps and 43 species (n = 8,727 individuals) were captured in bottomland depressions over the 2 yr period. Three vegetation variables and six environmental variables were correlated with herpetofaunal abundance. Salamander abundance, especially for species in the genus Ambystoma, was negatively associated with areas with less canopy cover and pronounced rutting (i.e., gaps and skidder trails). Alternatively, treefrog (Hylidae) abundance was positively associated with gap creation. Results from this study suggest that group selection harvests and skidder rutting may alter the herpetofaunal species composition in southern bottomland hardwoods by increasing habitat suitability for some species while diminishing it for others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-413
Number of pages7
JournalForest Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Amphibians
  • Forested wetlands
  • Group selection
  • Reptiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Ecological Modeling


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