Since being described in the year 2000, little ecological information has accumulated for South Mountains Gray-Cheeked Salamanders (Plethodon meridianus), a narrowly distributed salamander in southern Appalachia. In this study, we used repeat surveys to model occupancy and abundance of P. meridianus along a transect running from the approximate range center to range edge. We found a strong effect of elevation and distance to streams as predictors of occupancy and abundance. The number of days since rain had a strong impact on detection probability, likely due to its effect on salamander surface activity (i.e., time outside of burrow), as opposed to observer error. Treating elevation as a proxy for distance to the range edge, we found that occupancy and abundance declined toward the range edge, supporting the center-periphery hypothesis. Our findings matched that of similar previous studies: at low elevations in dry habitat, salamanders are only found along the cooler microhabitat of streams, whereas at high elevations, salamanders are more widespread across the landscape.

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