Abiotic and biotic factors reduce the viability of a high-elevation salamander in its native range.

Published online
03 Jan 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Campbell Grant, E. H. & Direnzo, G. V. & Brand, A. B.
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Amphibian populations are undergoing worldwide declines, and high-elevation, range-restricted amphibian species may be particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors. In particular, future climate change may have disproportional impacts to these ecosystems. Evaluating the combined effects of abiotic changes and biotic interactions simultaneously is important for forecasting the range of future outcomes. This information is necessary to aid conservation decision-making. We use field data to estimate population demographic parameters for an exemplary high-elevation amphibian species, the federally endangered Shenandoah salamander Plethodon shenandoah. These parameters were entered into a Markov projection model which we used to forecast the future population status of the Shenandoah salamander. We found that if the population maintains its current site colonization and persistence rates, it is at the risk of extinction that could be exacerbated by both climate and interspecific competition. Synthesis and applications. Managers have a fundamental objective directed by official policy of maintaining the species 'for the foreseeable future'. Our evaluation of multiple hypotheses about population drivers reveals that extinction is projected for this species. Our analysis suggests that considering active management need not depend on resolving the uncertainty.

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