Modeling Salamander Habitat and Connectivity in Durham and Orange Counties, North Carolina

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2019-04-18

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Abstract

Salamander species in the Piedmont region of North Carolina are under-studied. This region is undergoing rapid expansion, urbanization, and human population growth, all of which will affect salamander habitat and salamanders directly, making it important to know where populations are currently located. This project assessed the usage of two methods, rule-based modeling and Maxent modeling, to predict habitat for eleven species of salamander found in Durham and Orange counties. These predicted habitat maps can be used to prioritize land conservation, areas for on-the-ground salamander surveys or management, and areas to avoid the use of certain forest management activities. The project also assessed the connectivity of ponds and wetlands used by pond-breeding salamanders. Corridors between ponds were identified for each Duke Forest division, and potential conflict areas with roads were highlighted. The results can be used to mitigate road mortality during breeding seasons, when large numbers of adults migrate, and after breeding seasons, when juveniles metamorphose and emigrate. Despite being one of the most urbanized parts of the state, the Triangle region of North Carolina is still home to a surprising diversity of salamander species. As the region grows, salamander habitat will dwindle, making it important to identify and conserve the best habitat and current salamander populations.

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Geschke, Julia (2019). Modeling Salamander Habitat and Connectivity in Durham and Orange Counties, North Carolina. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/18336.


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