When forests are cleared, it’s the end of the frogs, toads, and salamanders that live there. Maybe not. A new study from the University of Missouri begs to differ, and points to an approach to harvesting timber that can let amphibians retain their residency. Excerpts from news release:

The results of the study present two primary implications for timber management that would benefit amphibians. First, timber harvesters producing clear cuts that are small (within a six-acre area) may improve the chances of amphibians being able to move out of the area until sufficient reforestation occurs. Second, if harvesters leave coarse woody debris (everything over two inches in diameter) on the ground, it will contribute to the amphibians’ survival by creating food, maintaining moisture and providing shelter.

(Ray Semlitsch, professor of biological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science) said amphibians are potential bio-indicators of ecosystem health and are the most threatened vertebrate type globally, with one-third, or 1,896 species, currently at risk of extinction. Studies done in the past indicate harvesting forest is particularly detrimental. Amphibians are very sensitive to water loss, heat and changes in temperature. They have no natural barrier to water loss. Semlitsch found that amphibians may be able to react to changes in their environment in an effort to alleviate risk in ways previously undocumented.

“I am trying to develop general principles to help us manage our natural resources without exploiting them to a point where ecosystems begin to fall apart,” he said. “I am not against cutting trees, but let’s do it in a way that’s responsible and will maintain forests and the timber industry, as well as amphibians, for generations to come.”

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