Reed College Canyon

The Role of Interspecific Competition in Allowing the Coexistence of Ensatina eschscholtzii oregonensis and Plethodon vehiculum

author: Tiffany Thornton
advisor: Robert Kaplan
year: 2002

ABSTRACT: The Oregon Salamander, Ensatina eschscholtzii oregonensis, is currently the only amphibian inhabiting the Reed College canyon. However, it coexists with other salamander species in habitat patches within the same geographic region. The historical and ecological explanations for this remain unclear, but it?s possible that interspecific competition may play a role in determining whether or not other salamander species could coexist with Ensatina in certain habitats.

Translocation of an ecologically similar species into the canyon is proposed as an experimental approach to the problem. This thesis evaluates the suitability of Plethodon vehiculum, the Western Red-Backed salamander, as a candidate for a hypothetical species translocation to the Reed College canyon. An initial evaluation indicates that Plethodon vehiculum may be a good candidate for translocation, although additional research concerning population dynamics and genetics of the species is required before proceeding.