Evaluating Effects of Pyrophytic Pine Forest Restoration on Herpetofauna Community Assemblages

Rachel Brubaker, Tennessee State University


The loss of Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forest habitats in the southeastern United States has had detrimental effects on herpetofauna populations associated with these ecosystems. Efforts to restore Longleaf pine forests are being implemented across millions of acres, yet the consequences of restoration on herpetofauna populations remain understudied. This study evaluated responses of herpetofauna species and communities to forest structural stages of Longleaf pine forest restoration. I used passive trapping methods to capture herpetofauna within four Longleaf pine restoration structural stages (treatments), replicated four times for a total of 16 forest stands in the William B. Bankhead National Forest, Alabama. I investigated variation in herpetofauna community composition, taxonomic diversity, and abundance. I captured 2,676 individuals that represented 46 species over 1,800 trap nights. I detected significant differences in herpetofauna community compositions among treatments when considering species collectively, as well as when analyzing reptiles and amphibians separately. I did not detect significant variation in herpetofauna species richness among treatments, but I did detect differences in Shannon and Simpson’s diversity. I detected differences in amphibian species richness and Simpson’s diversity among treatments. Snake relative abundance responded positively to the desired forest condition treatment, whereas salamander relative abundance responded negatively. I detected positive relationships between both lizard and anuran relative abundance and recent prescribed burning. Relative abundance responses to microhabitat variables were species-specific for lizards, anurans, and salamanders. This study suggests that Longleaf pine forest restoration alters herpetofauna communities and taxonomic diversity, benefiting some species while negatively affecting others.

Subject Area

Ecology|Wildlife Management|Wildlife Conservation|Forestry

Recommended Citation

Rachel Brubaker, "Evaluating Effects of Pyrophytic Pine Forest Restoration on Herpetofauna Community Assemblages" (2023). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI30569788.