Stage-Specific Demographic Effects of Hydrologic Variation in a Stream Salamander

Madaline M. Cochrane, Brett R. Addis, Winsor H. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We lack a strong understanding of how organisms with complex life histories respond to climate variation. Many streamassociated species have multistage life histories that are likely to influence the demographic consequences of floods and droughts. However, tracking stage-specific demographic responses requires high-resolution, long-term data that are rare. We used 8 years of capture-recapture data for the headwater stream salamander Gyrinophilus porphyriticus to quantify the effects of flooding and drying magnitude on stage-specific vital rates and population growth. Drying reduced larval recruitment but increased the probability of metamorphosis (i.e., adult recruitment). Flooding reduced adult recruitment but had no effect on larval recruitment. Larval and adult survival declined with flooding but were unaffected by drying. Annual population growth rates (l) declined with flooding and drying. Lambda also declined over the study period (2012–2021), although mean l was 1.0 over this period. Our results indicate that G. porphyriticus populations are resilient to hydrologic variation because of compensatory effects on recruitment of larvae versus adults (i.e., reproduction vs. metamorphosis). Complex life cycles may enable this resilience to climate variation by creating opportunities for compensatory demographic responses across stages. However, more frequent and intense hydrologic variation in the latter half of this study contributed to a decline in l over time, suggesting that increasing environmental variability poses a threat even when demographic compensation occurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E175-E187
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2024


  • Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
  • climate change
  • complex life cycle
  • demographic compensation
  • recruitment
  • survival
  • Climate
  • Population Growth
  • Urodela
  • Metamorphosis, Biological
  • Animals
  • Larva
  • Ecosystem
  • Population Dynamics


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