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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 27, Issue 4 — July 2001

Response of Amphibian and Reptile Populations to Vegetation Maintenance of an Electric Transmission Line Right-Of-Way    (View PDF)

Richard H. Yahner, William C. Bramble, and W. Richard Byrnes

Abstract: A 2-year study of amphibian and reptile populations was conducted on a 500-kV transmission line right-of-way (ROW) of PECO Energy in the Piedmont Physiographic Province, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, U.S., from June through July 1999, September through October 1999, and March through October 2000. The objectives were to compare the diversity and relative abundance of amphibians and reptiles between the ROW and the adjacent forest, among five treatment units on the ROW, and between wire and borders zones on treatments on the ROW. Eight species were observed during the study, and the two most common species were Jefferson salamanders (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) and redback salamanders (Plethodon tinereus). All eight species were noted on the ROW, but only Jefferson and redback salamanders occurred in the adjacent forest. The number of species ranged from six species in the mowing plus herbicide unit to three each in the stem—foliage spray and foliage spray units. All species were found in the wire zones compared to only five species in the border zones. The ROW contained a greater diversity of amphibian and reptile species than the adjacent forest. Because forest-management practices can have negative impacts on populations of amphibians and reptiles, this study provides valuable information on forest-management practices required for the conservation of amphibians and reptiles.

Keywords: Amphibians; herbicides; reptiles; right-of-way; salamanders; snakes; tree control; turtles.

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