Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Biology (PhD)

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


John David Willson

Committee Member

Michelle Evans-White

Second Committee Member

Dan Magoulick

Third Committee Member

Jessica Homyack


Abundance, Harvesting, Occupancy, Salamander Growth, Species Richness, Streamside Management Zone


Riparian zones are transitional, semi-terrestrial areas regularly influenced by freshwater. These areas serve as dispersal corridors for many animal and plant species and ultimately function as important reservoirs of biodiversity in altered landscapes. While much of the riparian habitat in the United States has been affected by anthropogenic activities, management actions may mitigate potentially negative influences of these activities. For example, Streamside Management Zones (i.e., riparian buffers; SMZs) are commonly implemented within managed forests to protect water quality, but may also provide habitat for riparian-associated wildlife. Yet, little research has rigorously addressed the value of SMZs for wildlife, particularly cryptic species such as amphibians and reptiles. Previous studies of herpetofauna within SMZs have focused on one or a few stream-associated species, and questions remain regarding variation among species or guilds and what role SMZs serve toward conservation of herpetofaunal diversity in managed forests. However, recent statistical advances have improved our ability to analyze large multi-species presence-absence datasets, accounting for low detection rates typical for some herpetofaunal species. This study represents an extensive landscape-scale examination of herpetofaunal communities within SMZs using a multi-species occupancy approach within the Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas, and along the Broad River in South Carolina, USA. We used a hierarchical Bayesian community occupancy model to estimate species richness and species-specific occupancy responses to SMZ and overstory characteristics. In addition to this landscape-scape investigation, we also examined the effect of harvesting on individual growth of the Ouachita dusky salamander (Desmognathus brimleyorum). We used intensive capture-mark-recapture at three headwater streams embedded in intensely managed pine forests of west-central Arkansas, employing a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) design. Collectively, our results indicate that SMZs surrounding small first-order streams in intensively managed forests not only protect water quality, but also can support diverse amphibian and reptile communities.