A Survey of Plethodon sp. (Plethodontidae) Salamander Populations in Caves and Sinkholes at Fort Hood, Texas
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER CHAMPAIGN IL CONSTRUCTION ENGINEERING RESEARCH LAB
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Salamanders of the genus Plethodon occur in a variety of mesic woodland habitats. Recently, populations of an undescribed species have been discovered at Fort Hood, Texas. These populations are associated with features such as caves and sinkholes. Red imported fire ants RIFA, Solenopsis invicta Buren, are thought to compete with cavernicoles for food and sometimes prey upon animals in the caves, but their impact at Fort Hood has not been closely examined. This research documents 1 the presenceabsence and abundance of Plethodon sp. at selected caves and sinkholes on Fort Hood and 2 the presence or absence of RIFA at features surveyed for Plethodon sp. The data fail to demonstrate any meaningful relationship between either active RIFA mound counts or numbers of RIFA in bait traps and the presenceabsence or abundance of Plethodon sp. Because RIFA can be overwhelming as a predator and difficult to control, management efforts should focus toward limiting the impacts of RIFA on sites where the salamander is known to occur. A more robust estimate of the population size for the salamander is needed. General size data suggest that the salamander population is normal and healthy.