Short term response of herpetofaunal to oak-regeneration treatments on the mid-Cumberland Plateau of southern Tennessee
We examined the short term response of herpetofauna to two treatments designed to regenerate oak in upland hardwood forest: (1) shelterwood (30–40% BA retention), and (2) oak-shelterwood (midstory removal by use of herbicide), along with controls. Research was conducted 1 and 2 years post treatment within an oak-hickory forest within the mid-Cumberland Plateau of southern Tennessee. Reptiles and amphibians were captured using drift fences equipped with double-ended funnel traps and pitfall traps. The shelterwood treatment had the least canopy cover and greatest amount of light at the forest floor relative to oak shelterwood or control. These changes were the main drivers for increasing the complexity of forest vegetation within the stands. Fowler’s toads, eastern-narrow mouthed toads, northern slimy salamanders, eastern five-lined skinks, eastern fence lizards, northern black racers and smooth earth snakes were most abundant in the shelterwood treatment. Broad-headed skinks were most abundant in oak-shelterwood stands. Amphibian and reptile species richness was higher in the shelterwood stands than in oak-shelterwood or control. Reptile diversity was higher in the shelterwood treatment than controls. No negative responses for herpetofaunal abundance, richness, or diversity were detected in either treatment. These findings will provide forest resource managers and private forest land owners with better knowledge for conserving herpetofaunal species when implementing these oak regeneration methods in upland hardwood forests of the Cumberland Plateau.