The Nickel Preserve harbors a suite of salamander species that are uncommon or endemic to the Ozarks. These species have been selected as nested targets within the primary ecosystem targets. Most are ranked G3 or G4, meaning they may be quite rare in all or parts of their ranges
The Ozarks Ecoregional Conservation Assessment identified the Nickel Preserve as a key site for the protection of these important conservation targets. The size and ecological quality of the preserve provides for healthy populations of these salamanders. Preserve staff have initiated monitoring programs to track the relative abundance of these species across the preserve. Salamanders can be very useful indicator species, meaning the health of these organisms may closely parallel the health of the larger ecosystem.
Salamanders have several unique attributes that make them especially good indicators of ecosystem health or environmental change. Salamanders comprise the largest biomass of all vertebrates in many forest ecosystems. They are functionally positioned at mid-levels in the food web. They are apparently quite sensitive to disturbances---both ecological and human-induced. Their small territory size and strong site fidelity make them good indicators of very local changes in their environments.
Nickel Preserve staff have established 15 transects in a wide variety of habitats across the preserve. 36" x 10" boards have been placed in pairs at 20 meter intervals along the transects. Transects will be checked monthly from March through October. Results will provide staff with insights into species use among areas with different management practices. Additionally, changes in relative abundance of salamanders over time may indicate ecosystem level changes. The success of management actions such as prescribed burning will be measured by the desirability of these changes over the long term.February 04, 2011