Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 9


study his lab conducted at the Penn
State Deer Research Center that
was published in April 2016. That
research demonstrated that whitetailed deer prefer native plants and
seem to avoid eating invasives.
"So if we have Microstegium
filling the forest understory and
deer are looking for something to
eat - since they don't feed much
on Microstegium at all - the deer
clip off any native plant growth
that manages to get through the
invasives," he says. "That allows the
invasives to further dominate the
plant community.
"As a result, the recruitment of
economically important tree species
will be curtailed. This process can be
really damaging to the health of the
forest in the long run, and even in the
short term."
Source: Penn State

With changing environments, pond-breeding salamanders face
increasingly hazardous treks as the space between breeding ponds and their
non-breeding habitat widens or is degraded. A study from the University of
Missouri suggests that a salamander's success may depend more on when it
breeds than on the landscape obstacles it might face. Scientists believe that
knowing the patterns in which salamanders move back and forth could lead
to better forest management and conservation strategies.
"Salamanders serve as vital links in forest food chains, and their
population size and recovery from major disturbances can help predict
the health of forest ecosystems," says Jacob Burkhart, a graduate student
in the Division of Biological Sciences and lead author of the study. "It's
crucial that we have a better understanding of how salamanders move,
or disperse, across their landscape as well as what factors encourage
or discourage their movement in order to make sound decisions about
managing their populations and the forests where they live."
Burkhart and his colleagues, including Lori Eggert, an associate
professor in the Division of Biological Sciences in the MU College of Arts
and Science, used DNA extracted from tissue samples to estimate the
movement patterns of salamanders. DNA allows the researchers to assess
genetic relationships and gene flow between populations and individuals
and paired those data with geographical measurements to observe how
salamanders moved across the landscape.
The researchers studied four species of pond-breeding salamanders at
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; two species breed in the spring and two in the fall.
They also measured features of the landscape, including distance between
ponds, the amount of tree cover, distance from ravines, and soil wetness.
DNA analysis showed that salamanders that breed in the fall move to
new ponds less often than salamanders that breed in the spring. Distance
between ponds and various landscape features could not fully explain the
observed genetic differences.
"Even though some habitat features seemed to affect dispersal, we
found that, for all four species, breeding season was a better predictor than
habitat of the observed genetic differences," says Burkhart. "Practically,
what this says is that landscape variables are not quite as important as the
timing of the breeding season."
For those concerned with managing salamander populations as a
means of managing forests, Burkhart says the study serves as a reminder
that not all salamander species are alike.
"When using a particular species as a way of managing forests,
conservationists should be aware of traits specific to those species, including
their breeding seasons." Burkhart says. "When writing a conservation plan
or when attempting to apply results from one species to related species, you
need to consider the ecology of your target species, including its life history
traits, in addition to its interactions with the landscape."

Creeping thistle
is one of the
most prevalent
invasive species in

Kazakov Maksim/Shutterstock

SNC Art/Shutterstock

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Fall 2017 * WOODLAND 9


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodlands - Fall 2017

Tools and Resources
Forests and Families
A Legacy to Keep
From Forests to Fermentation
Feathering a Forested Nest
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - intro
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover1
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover2
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 3
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Overstory
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 5
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 6
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 7
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 8
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 9
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 10
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 11
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 12
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 13
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 14
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 15
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 16
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 17
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Tools and Resources
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 19
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Forests and Families
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 21
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 22
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 23
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - A Legacy to Keep
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 25
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 26
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 27
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 28
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 29
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - From Forests to Fermentation
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 31
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 32
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 33
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - Feathering a Forested Nest
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 35
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 36
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 37
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - 38
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover3
Woodlands - Fall 2017 - cover4