, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 2197-2218
Date: 10 Nov 2007

Developing landscape habitat models for rare amphibians with small geographic ranges: a case study of Siskiyou Mountains salamanders in the western USA

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Abstract

To advance the development of conservation planning for rare species with small geographic ranges, we determined habitat associations of Siskiyou Mountains salamanders (Plethodon stormi) and developed habitat suitability models at fine (10 ha), medium (40 ha), and broad (202 ha) spatial scales using available Geographic Information Systems data and logistic regression analysis with an information theoretic approach. Across spatial scales, there was very little support for models with structural habitat features, such as tree canopy cover and conifer diameter. Model-averaged 95% confidence intervals for regression coefficients and associated odds ratios indicated that the occurrence of Siskiyou Mountains salamanders was positively associated with rocky soils and Pacific madrone (Abutus menziesii) and negatively associated with elevation and white fir (Abies concolor); these associations were consistent across 3 spatial scales. The occurrence of this species also was positively associated with hardwood density at the medium spatial scale. Odds ratios projected that a 10% decrease in white fir abundance would increase the odds of salamander occurrence 3.02–4.47 times, depending on spatial scale. We selected the model with rocky soils, white fir, and Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) as the best model across 3 spatial scales and created habitat suitability maps for Siskiyou Mountains salamanders by projecting habitat suitability scores across the landscape. Our habitat suitability models and maps are applicable to selection of priority conservation areas for Siskiyou Mountains salamanders, and our approach can be easily adapted to conservation of other rare species in any geographical location.