To meet the conservation needs of declining amphibian populations, there is a need to assess monitoring techniques in various habitat types and seasons. I assessed detection rates and proportion of area occupied via transect monitoring for red-backed salamanders at a site along the Virginia Fall Line in Doswell, Virginia. I established 24 transects in a 3.2-ha area in both riparian and upland habitats. Objects providing natural cover along these transects were sampled 3 times a week in fall and spring over a two-year period. Models of occupancy and detection were developed and compared using Akaike’s Information Criterion. Based on 113 captures, model selection indicated a low fixed initial occupancy of transects with seasonal changes in colonization and extinction. Detection probability was uniformly low, possibly contributing to model uncertainty in determining the best explanatory variables. I infer that the increased colonization of transect cover objects during fall and increased emigration from cover objects during spring is a result of changing moisture conditions and feeding opportunities. It is likely that occupancy and detection will vary substantially for survey sites based on habitat, season, or even by transect placement, and thus managers will need to estimate these parameters for any population monitoring program of red-backed salamanders.


This is the online version published ahead of print. Initial submission: August 2016.