304. 304.

Environmental Science and Resource Management

ESRM 304

Aaron Wirsing


Salamander Survey at St. Edward State Park


To familiarize you with a time-constrained methodology (an example of catch per unit effort (CPUE) sampling) and augment the Park database, we will conduct a time-constrained survey to compare amphibian abundance levels between coniferous forest and deciduous forest habitats.

We will divide into teams of three persons and conduct four 10-min surveys per team. Teams will survey each habitat twice. Areas surveyed will be at least 50m apart. Animals will be captured and placed in plastic bags until identified to species by the class, after which time they will be released at the point of capture. Combining the data between field days will result in a total of about 60 surveys with 30 surveys in each habitat type.


We will pool our capture data (available electronically after Wednesday’s trip) with that from 2004-2013 and each team will prepare a brief report of the results. The report will consist of a short introduction giving the purpose of the exercise, a methods section describing the field and analytical techniques, a results section, and a discussion of the results. Your team report is due at the start of lab next week, and should address the following:


  1. Identify the questions posed by the group, e.g., possible differences in amphibian relative abundance or species richness (the number of species) between forest types.
  2. Identify the hypotheses being tested (the null hypotheses). These could be species x habitat tests or community measures x habitat tests, such as species richness.
  3. Describe the nature of the data and how the data were collected.
  4. Perform statistical tests of the hypotheses (t-test at α=0.1 will be OK; see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlfLnx8sh-o for a t-test refresher).
  5. Counts are not normally distributed, so transform the data with a logarithmic transformation [log10(x+1) or ln(x+1), where x = raw count or richness] to approximate a normal distribution. Either log10 or ln can be used. Use transformed data in the t-test.
  6. Use the option of unequal variances for your t-test.
  7. Discuss the results of the test and your conclusions relative to
  8. amphibian species or community measures (richness) in these two habitat types,
  9. any complications of data interpretation, and
  10. suggestions for improving future work, i.e., if you were doing this for real, what would you do differently?


Species encountered at St. Edward State Park may include the following:

Salamanders                                                                          Frogs and Toads

Northwestern salamander, Ambystoma gracile                      Western toad, Bufo boreas

Coastal giant salamander, Dicamptodon tenebrosus              Pacific Treefrog, Hyla regilla

Long-toed salamander, Ambystoma macrodactylum              Red-legged frog, Rana aurora

Rough-skinned newt, Taricha granulosa

Redback salamander, Plethodon vehiculum

Ensatina, Ensatina eschscholtzii


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