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How to Use This Guide


     Monitoring Amphibians in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is meant to help National Park Service natural resource biologists, university researchers, nongovernmental biologists, and the interested public understand and overcome some of the biological and nonbiological constraints to setting up a large-scale inventory and monitoring program for amphibians inhabiting the Great Smoky Mountains. Some of the information applies only to amphibians within the Great Smokies, whereas information on setting up inventory and monitoring programs may have more broad applications with regard to Appalachian amphibians. Many persons who use this guide will be familiar with basic amphibian biology, but others will require a refresher course or will be unfamiliar with amphibian life histories.

       This guide serves as a companion volume to Dodd (2004) and, for that reason, information in that work has not been duplicated except when absolutely necessary. There is usually an exception to every generalization discussed below, and biologists should expect to encounter species outside of their normal habitat, that often do not fit identification information, or that have unusual behavioral patterns. Extensive information is not included on threats to amphibians (for example, habitat loss and alteration, disease, nonindigenous species, climate change, toxic chemicals, UVB, malformations) or the various reasons why amphibians are vulnerable to environmental problems (including their biphasic life cycle, skin permeability, and the complex morphological and biochemical transformations which accompany metamorphosis). These topics are dealt with in more detail elsewhere (Dodd, 1997, 2004; Alford and Richards, 1999; Corn, 2000; Houlahan and others, 2000).

       All of the potential sampling protocols, techniques, and methods of data analysis that may accompany, or be required for, a largescale amphibian inventory and monitoring program cannot be discussed within one short guide. For this reason, many specialized techniques are not discussed, instructions are not provided for making traps, and statistical programs are not considered in detail. However, references are provided at the end of this guide (see References on Inventorying and Monitoring Amphibians).

       Future amphibian monitoring within Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be linked to the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI). Standardized methods of data collection, entry, and analysis currently are being developed by ARMI researchers for all DOI lands. Pertinent information will be made available to Federal agencies and ARMI partners through ARMI’s web site:

http://armi.usgs.gov/

A cautionary note: There is always the danger that site information will be misused by criminal elements to find amphibians in order to collect them. This is true in National Parks and on other Federal lands, as well as on private lands. None of the amphibians found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are endangered or threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, although several species, such as Hellbenders, are protected by state law. Locations of many of the Park’s amphibians, including its endemic salamanders, are well known via the published scientific literature and on records attached to museum specimens. Therefore, it seems unlikely that mentioning Park locations in this guide will increase the probability of collection, especially when these species are found readily, and often in greater abundance, outside the Park. For example, the Mole Salamander, Southern Zigzag Salamander, and Mud Salamander might be considered “rare” or “isolated” within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, yet very large and widespread populations of these species are found in the Tennessee Valley and elsewhere. Still, Park Service employees and research scientists working within the Park, including field survey teams, must be observant for illegal collectors and immediately report suspicious activities to law enforcement personnel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amphibians of the Great Smoky Mountains

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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

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