Survey of southern Missouri Plethodontidae in Ozark caves
Keywords:salamanders, Plethodontidae, Ozarks, population distribution, species abundance
Plethodontidae is a large family of salamanders with a distribution ranging from eastern North America
to northern South America. Three genera and nine species occur in Missouri, most of which are typically found in caves
for at least part of their lives. These species have been recorded to emerge from hibernation in early April and throughout
May. This study shares the species abundance and diversity in ten Missouri Ozark caves: seven near St. Louis and
three near Springfield. Each cave was surveyed at least once between November 2021 and September 2022 using visual
encounter surveys. Observational data were recorded without handling any individuals to minimize disturbance. The
three caves near St. Louis had few to no salamanders present in early April, despite optimal weather conditions, but
tended to have larger populations throughout the summer. Two caves near Springfield held at least a dozen individuals
of multiple species in mid-April. Few individuals were recorded in the most southwestern cave sampled, potentially
due to pollution or recent flooding. Our findings could aid others studying plethodontid salamanders to determine the
prime conditions for emergence from hibernation, optimal habitats for different species in each cave zone, and potential
biological or chemical impacts that could affect salamander abundance in caves.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Samantha Grove, Charles D.R. Stephen, Grace Hall, Rachel Lange, Carlie Ronzano
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Copyright is held by the authors. Articles in R&A are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.