Comparison of a Population of Eastern Red-backed Salamanders, Plethodon cinereus, under Native Dominant Wood Coverboards and Natural Cover Objects


  • Jean-David Moore Direction de la Recherche forestière, Forêt Québec, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, 2700 rue Einstein, Sainte-Foy, Québec G1P 3W8



Eastern Red-backed Salamander, Plethodon cinereus, capture comparison, wood coverboards, natural cover objects, northern hardwoods, Lake Clair, Lac Clair, Quebec


Artificial cover objects or coverboards have been widely used to study Eastern Red-backed Salamanders (Plethodon cinereus), a species that is very abundant in eastern North America and known to be one of the most common vertebrates within its geographical range. However, recent studies have suggested that potential bias may be associated with the use of coverboards compared with natural cover objects. In this study, age structure and body size (weight and snout-vent length, SVL) of P. cinereus found under coverboards and natural cover objects at Lake Clair (Quebec, Canada) were compared. Coverboards were made of Sugar Maple (Acer sacchrum), a native forest species dominant in the study area. In 2004 and 2005, a total of 162 P. cinereus were found under coverboards, and 156 P. cinereus were found under natural cover objects. No significant difference in the age structure, mean weight, or SVL of P. cinereus was observed between the two sets. This study suggests that the type of coverboard used at Lake Clair is a good method to obtain an accurate index of P. cinereus population demographics, and is similar to that expected under natural cover objects. This technique should help to establish a standard protocol that could better allow direct comparisons among studies in the future. However, more studies are needed to explain the high proportion of adult specimens found under both cover types at Lake Clair relative to studies in other regions in North America.