The Influence of Soil Moisture on the Color Morph of the Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)
Southern New Hampshire University
This project aims to determine whether or not soil moisture influences the presence of different color morphs of the Eastern Red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus). Soil temperature and moisture are two variables that comprise a thermal niche. Prior research suggests that different color morphs of this salamander have been known to be found at different substrate temperatures, however, this finding may be dependent on the location and season of sampling. Measuring the soil moisture and conducting a count survey on these salamanders will gather additional data that can be examined to find out if there is a correlation between the different color morphs and different soil moisture levels or thermal niches. In the SNHU Arboretum four plots were established, each consisting of 12 coverboards to allow for count surveying to take place. Count surveying and soil sampling were conducted each week for 9 weeks. This study will provide data to support the idea that certain color morphs of this salamander have become more dominant in certain thermal niches.