Year of Publication

2020

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences (MSFNRS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Forestry and Natural Resources

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher D. Barton

Second Advisor

Dr. Steven J. Price

Abstract

Reclaimed mines often lack pre-mining habitat due to soil compaction and lack of natural features. If soils are de-compacted and natural features restored, new habitats can be created, such as wetlands for amphibians. It is important to understand which factors affect amphibian use of wetlands to estimate the efficacy of created wetlands as habitat. I sampled 40 wetlands among 4 ages (2, 4, 6, and 8 years) on a reforested surface mine to: 1) characterize differences in wetland habitat across age classes, 2) estimate amphibian occupancy, 3) investigate estimated abundance of 4 amphibian species (Lithobates sylvaticus, L. clamitans, Notophthalmus viridescens, and Ambystoma maculatum) and 4) identify wetland characteristics most important for amphibian utilization of wetlands. Over 2,200 amphibian captures were recorded. There were 8 species found in 8 year-old wetlands, 5 in the 4 and 6 year-old wetlands, and 6 in the 2 year-old wetlands. Wetland age, specific conductance of water, vegetation cover, and canopy cover were predictors of amphibian occupancy and abundance. Water quality was better than described in streams affected by mining that exhibited limited amphibian occupancy and abundance. My results indicated that created wetlands on reforested surface mines provide suitable breeding habitat for pond breeding amphibians.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.181

Funding Information

Eller and Billings Research Award - University of Kentucky Appalachian Center 2018

Karri Casner Environmental Sciences Fellowship - University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment 2018

Chicago Herpetological Society 2018

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