Large gaps exist in our knowledge of the ecology of stream-breeding plethodontid salamanders in the Gulf Coastal Plain. Data describing where these salamanders are likely to occur along environmental gradients, as well as their likelihood of detection, are important for the prevention and management of amphibian declines. We used presence/absence data from leaf litter bag surveys and a hierarchical Bayesian multispecies single-season occupancy model to estimate the occurrence of five species of plethodontids across reaches in headwater streams in the Gulf Coastal Plain. Average detection probabilities were high (range = 0.432–0.942) and unaffected by sampling covariates specific to the use of litter bags (i.e., bag submergence, sampling season, in-stream cover). Estimates of occurrence probabilities differed substantially between species (range = 0.092–0.703) and were influenced by the size of the upstream drainage area and by the maximum proportion of the reach that dried. The effects of these two factors were not equivalent across species. Our results demonstrate that hierarchical multispecies models successfully estimate occurrence parameters for both rare and common stream-breeding plethodontids. The resulting models clarify how species are distributed within stream networks, and they provide baseline values that will be useful in evaluating the conservation statuses of plethodontid species within lotic systems in the Gulf Coastal Plain.

You do not currently have access to this content.