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1 December 2018 Movement and Habitat Use of Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) Following Population Augmentation
Emily B. McCallen, Bart T. Kraus, Nick G. Burgmeier, Songlin Fei, Rod N. Williams
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Abstract

With amphibian declines at crisis levels, translocations, including population augmentations, are commonly used for amphibian conservation. Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) have declined to low densities in many areas of their range, making them ideal candidates for population augmentation. Both wild adults and captive-reared juveniles have been used for augmentations, but their suitability has never been directly compared. Herein, we use radio telemetry with Eastern Hellbenders to examine patterns of site fidelity, movement, and habitat use over a 2-yr period for adult residents, wild adult translocates, and captive-reared juvenile translocates. We used generalized linear models and generalized linear mixed models to identify temporal trends and explore the effects of residential status (resident vs. translocate) and origin/age (captive-reared juveniles vs. wild adults) on various ecological and behavioral traits relating to habitat. Site fidelity was high in adult residents and wild adult translocates, but lower in captive-reared juvenile translocates. Both adult and juvenile translocates had greater mean movement distances than residents, leading to larger home range sizes, but these differences decreased over time. Wild adult translocates had a higher probability of using artificial nest rocks than adult residents or captive-reared juvenile translocates. This pattern was most prevalent early in the study, indicating these shelters are particularly useful during the transition to release sites. Captive-reared juvenile translocates had lower site fidelity and utilized suboptimal habitat (smaller and fewer shelter rocks) compared to wild adults. Compared to previous studies, translocations had fewer negative effects on site residents or wild translocates and might be effective at promoting growth of Hellbender populations. However, translocations of captive-reared juveniles were less successful. As we are uncertain whether captive-rearing or ontogeny led to these differences, both longer head-starting times and conditioning should be explored to improve outcomes in captive-reared juvenile cohorts.

© 2018 by The Herpetologists' League, Inc.
Emily B. McCallen, Bart T. Kraus, Nick G. Burgmeier, Songlin Fei, and Rod N. Williams "Movement and Habitat Use of Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) Following Population Augmentation," Herpetologica 74(4), 283-293, (1 December 2018). https://doi.org/10.1655/0018-0831.283
Accepted: 11 July 2018; Published: 1 December 2018
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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KEYWORDS
Caudata
home range
radio-telemetry
Salamander
translocation
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