Action

Use leave-tree harvesting instead of clearcutting

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    10%
  • Certainty
    48%
  • Harms
    11%

Source countries

Key messages

  • Two studies (including one randomized, replicated, controlled, before-and-after study) in the USA found that compared to clearcutting, leaving a low density of trees during harvest did not result in higher salamander abundance.
  • Two studies (including one randomized, replicated, controlled, before-and-after study) in the USA found that compared to no harvesting, leaving a low density of trees during harvest decreased salamander abundance and changed species composition.
  • One randomized, replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in the USA found that compared to unharvested plots, the proportion of female salamanders carrying eggs, eggs per female or proportion of juveniles were similar or lower in harvested plots that included leave-tree harvests, depending on species and time since harvest.

 

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A controlled, before-and-after study in 1994–1997 in a hardwood forest in Virginia, USA (Harpole & Haas 1999) found that leave-tree harvesting decreased relative abundance of salamanders in a similar way to clearcutting. Captures decreased significantly after both leave-tree harvesting (before: 8; one year after: 4; three years after: 1 amphibian/search) and clearcutting (before: 10; one year after: 7; three years after: 1/search). Abundance did not differ significantly within the unharvested plot (before: 10; one year after: 10; three years after: 8). Treatments on 2 ha plots were: leave-tree (up to 16 trees/ha retained), clearcutting (up to 12 wildlife and dead trees retained) and unharvested. Salamanders were monitored along 15 x 2 m transects with artificial cover objects (50/plot).

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A randomized, replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 1993–1999 of five harvested hardwood forests in Virginia, USA (Knapp et al. 2003) found that leave-tree harvesting did not result in higher salamander abundances than clearcutting (see also Homyack & Haas 2009). Abundance was similar in the leave-tree and clearcut plots (2 vs 1/30 m2 respectively). Abundance was significantly lower than unharvested plots (6/30 m2). Species composition differed before and three years post-harvest. There was no significant difference in the proportion of females carrying eggs or eggs/female for red-backed salamander Plethodon cinereus (7 eggs) or mountain dusky salamander Desmognathus ochrophaeus (12–13 eggs) in unharvested and harvested treatments (leave-tree, shelterwoods and clearcut with wildlife trees or snags left). The proportion of juveniles was similar except for slimy salamander Plethodon glutinosus, which had a significantly lower proportion in harvested plots. There were five sites with 2 ha plots with the following treatments: leave-tree harvest (up to 50 trees/ha retained uniformly; average 28%), clearcutting, other harvested treatments and an unharvested control. Salamanders were monitored on 9–15 transects (2 x 15 m)/plot at night in April–October. One or two years of pre-harvest and 1–4 years of post-harvest data were collected.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. In a continuation of a previous study (Knapp et al. 2003), a randomized, replicated, controlled study in 1994–2007 of six hardwood forests in Virginia, USA (Homyack & Haas 2009) found that leave-tree harvesting did not result in higher salamander abundance compared to clearcutting up to 13 years after harvest. Abundance was similar between treatments (4 vs 2/transect respectively) and significantly lower than unharvested plots (7/transect). Proportions of juveniles and eggs/female were significantly lower in harvested (leave-tree, shelterwoods, group cutting and clearcut with wildlife trees or snags left) compared to unharvested treatments for mountain dusky salamander Desmognathus ochrophaeus and juveniles for red-backed salamander Plethodon cinereus. Proportions of females carrying eggs for slimy salamander Plethodon glutinosus and southern ravine salamanders Plethodon richmondii were similar in harvested and unharvested plots. There were six sites with 2 ha plots randomly assigned to treatments: leave-tree harvest (25–45 trees/ha retained), clearcutting, other harvested treatments and an unharvested control. Treatments were in 1994–1998 and salamanders were monitored at night along nine 2 x 15 m transects/site.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Smith, R.K., Meredith, H. & Sutherland, W.J. (2019) Amphibian Conservation. Pages 9-65 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2019. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Amphibian Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Amphibian Conservation

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, terrestrial mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read latest volume: Volume 17

Special issues: Amphibian special issue

Go to the Journal

Subscribe to our newsletter

Please add your details if you are interested in receiving updates from the Conservation Evidence team about new papers, synopses and opportunities.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust