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Effect of microhabitat on fitness components of larval tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum


Survivorship and growth of larval tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum, in the White Mountains of east-central Arizona were compared in six microhabitats using field enclosures during summers, 1983–85. Microhabitats were vegetated and nonvegetated shallows, surface, middle, and bottom horizontal layers of limnetic areas, and the vertical limnetic water column. Initial enclosure densities (0.025 larvae per 1) were identical among microhabitats. Three enclosures were placed in each microhabitat in two ponds. Larval survivorship and growth were usually greatest in vegetated shallows in lowest in middle and bottom limnetic enclosures, despite several population dieoffs. Lower fitness, as reflected in survivorship and growth, in these latter enclosures was correlated with lower food levels, temperatures, and oxygen concentrations in deeper limnetic areas. Relative fitness varied greatly between years while food levels, temperatures, and oxygen concentrations within microhabitats remained relatively constant indicating additional factors affected fitness. Disparities in fitness between microhabitats apparently affect habitat use patterns of larvae.

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Holomuzki, J.R. Effect of microhabitat on fitness components of larval tiger salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum . Oecologia 71, 142–148 (1986).

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Key words

  • Microhabitat
  • Larval salamanders
  • Survivorship
  • Growth
  • Enclosutes