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Robert J. Warren II and Mark A. Bradford

Abstract

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is a large-scale climate teleconnection that coincides with worldwide changes in weather. Its impacts have been documented at large scales, particularly in Europe, but not as much at regional scales. Furthermore, despite documented impacts on ecological dynamics in Europe, the NAO’s influence on North American biota has been somewhat overlooked. This paper examines long-term temperature and precipitation trends in the southern Appalachian Mountain region—a region well known for its biotic diversity, particularly in salamander species—and examines the connections between these trends and NAO cycles. To connect the NAO phase shifts with southern Appalachian ecology, trends in stream salamander abundance are also examined as a function of the NAO index. The results reported here indicate no substantial long-term warming or precipitation trends in the southern Appalachians and suggest a strong relationship between cool season (November–April) temperature and precipitation and the NAO. More importantly, trends in stream salamander abundance are best explained by variation in the NAO as salamanders are most plentiful during the warmer, wetter phases.

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