The Bogert Effect Revisited: Salamander Regulatory Behaviors are Differently Constrained by Time and Space

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© 2018 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The use of behavior to buffer extreme environmental variation is expected to enable species to (a) extend the breadth of environments they inhabit beyond that predicted from climatic data and (b) diminish the negative effects of broad scale and chronic disturbances such as climate change. The term Bogert effect refers to behavioral compensation entailing microhabitat selection to maintain performance across a gradient of environmental conditions resulting in evolutionary inertia of physiological traits. Here, we compare microhabitats used by plethodontid salamanders distributed along an elevational gradient to determine whether there is behavioral compensation that buffers them from deleterious temperatures and moisture levels. Overall, salamanders preferred cooler and more mesic environments and occupied microhabitats that maintained constant moisture conditions at both high- and low-elevation sites. Our results suggest that salamanders use microhabitats to regulate temperature and moisture levels, which is consistent with the Bogert effect. Maintenance of more moist conditions may help buffer these species from rising temperatures but only in suitable high-elevation environments that are likely to disappear over the next century. We conclude that behavioral regulation of temperature and moisture is a potential mechanism for the Bogert effect in plethodontid salamanders.