Integrating Multiple Distribution Models to Guide Conservation Efforts of an Endangered Toad
Authors: Treglia M, Fisher R, Fitzgerald L | Date: 2015-06-30 | Outlet: PloS ONE | Format: .PDF
Species distribution models are used for numerous purposes such as predicting changes in species’ ranges and identifying biodiversity hotspots. Although implications of distribution models for conservation are often implicit, few studies use these tools explicitly to inform conservation efforts. Herein, we illustrate how multiple distribution models developed using distinct sets of environmental variables can be integrated to aid in identification sites for use in conservation. We focus on the endangered arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus), which relies on open, sandy streams and surrounding floodplains in southern California, USA, and northern Baja California, Mexico. Declines of the species are largely attributed to habitat degradation associated with vegetation encroachment, invasive predators, and altered hydrologic regimes. We had three main goals: 1) develop a model of potential habitat for arroyo toads, based on long-term environmental variables and all available locality data; 2) develop a model of the species’ current habitat by incorporating recent remotely-sensed variables and only using recent locality data; and 3) integrate results of both models to identify sites that may be employed in conservation efforts. We used Random Forests to develop the models, focused on riparian zones in southern California. We identified 14.37% and 10.50% of our study area as potential and current habitat for the arroyo toad, respectively. Generally, inclusion of remotely-sensed variables reduced modeled suitability of sites, thus many areas modeled as potential habitat were not modeled as current habitat. We propose such sites could be made suitable for arroyo toads through active management, increasing current habitat by up to 67.02%. Our general approach can be employed to guide conservation efforts of virtually any species with sufficient data necessary to develop appropriate distribution models.
Geographically Isolated Wetlands:
Authors: Mushet DM, Calhoun AJK, Alexander LC, Cohen MJ, DeKeyser ES, Fowler L, Lane CR, Lang MW, Rains MC, Walls SC
We explore the category geographically isolated
wetlands(GIWs; i.e., wetlands completely surrounded by
uplands at the local scale) as used in the wetland sciences.
As currently used, the GIW category (1) hampers scientific
efforts by obscuring important hydrological and ecological
differences among multiple wetland functional types, (2)
aggregates wetlands in a manner not reflective of regulatory
and management information needs, (3) implies wetlands so
described are in some way isolated, an often incorrect
implication, (4) is inconsistent with more broadly used and
accepted concepts of geographic isolation, and (5) has
injected unnecessary confusion into scientific investigations
and discussions. Instead, we suggest other wetland classification
systems offer more informative alternatives. For
example, hydrogeomorphic (HGM) classes based on wellestablished
scientific definitions account for wetland functional
diversity thereby facilitating explorations into
questions of connectivity without an a priori designation of
isolation. Additionally, an HGM-type approach could be
used in combination with terms reflective of current regulatory
or policymaking needs. For those rare cases in which
the condition of being surrounded by uplands is the relevant
distinguishing characteristic, use of terminology that does
not unnecessarily imply isolation (e.g., upland embedded
wetlands) would help alleviate much confusion caused by
the geographically isolated wetlands misonomer.
Testing hypotheses on distribution shifts and changes in phenology of imperfectly detectable species
Authors: Chambert T, Kendall WL, Hines JE, Nichols JD, Pedrini P, Waddle JH, Tavecchia G, Walls SC, Tenan S | Outlet: Methods in Ecology and Evolution
With ongoing climate change, many species are expected to shift their spatial and temporal distributions. To document changes in species distribution and phenology, detection/non-detection data have proven very useful. Occupancy models provide a robust way to analyze such data, but inference is usually focused on species spatial distribution, not phenology.
We present a multi-season extension of the staggered-entry occupancy model of Kendall et al. (2013), which permits inference about the within-season patterns of species arrival and departure at sampling sites. The new model presented here allows investigation of species phenology and spatial distribution across years, as well as site extinction/colonization dynamics.
We illustrate the model with two datasets on European migratory passerines and one dataset on North American tree frogs. We show how to derive several additional phenological parameters, such as annual mean arrival and departure dates, from estimated arrival and departure probabilities.
Given the extent of detection/non-detection data that are available, we believe that this modeling approach will prove very useful to further understand and predict species responses to climate change.
In situ effects of pesticides on amphibians in the Sierra Nevada
Authors: Sparling DW, Bickham J, Cowman D, Fellers GM, Lacher L, Matson CW, McConnell LL | Date: 2015-03 | Outlet: Ecotoxicology 24:262-278 | Format: URL
For more than 20 years, conservationists have agreed that amphibian populations around the world are declining. Results obtained through laboratory or mesocosm studies and measurement of contaminant concentrations in areas experiencing declines have supported a role of contaminants in these declines. The current study examines the effects of contaminant exposure to amphibians in situ in areas actually experiencing declines. Early larval Pseudacris regilla were translocated among Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, California, USA and caged in wetlands in 2001 and 2002 until metamorphosis. Twenty contaminants were identified in tadpoles with an average of 1.3–5.9 (maximum = 10) contaminants per animal. Sequoia National Park, which had the greatest variety and concentrations of contaminants in 2001, also had tadpoles that experienced the greatest mortality, slowest developmental rates and lowest cholinesterase activities. Yosemite and Sequoia tadpoles and metamorphs had greater genotoxicity than those in Lassen during 2001, as determined by flow cytometry. In 2001 tadpoles at Yosemite had a significantly higher rate of malformations, characterized as hemimelia (shortened femurs), than those at the other two parks but no significant differences were observed in 2002. Fewer differences in contaminant types and concentrations existed among parks during 2002 compared to 2001. In 2002 Sequoia tadpoles had higher mortality and slower developmental rates but there was no difference among parks in cholinesterase activities. Although concentrations of most contaminants were below known lethal concentrations, simultaneous exposure to multiple chemicals and other stressors may have resulted in lethal and sublethal effects.
Environmental DNA: Can it improve our understanding of biodiversity on NPS lands?
Authors: Ray A, Sepulveda A, Hossack BR, Patla D, Legg K | Date: 2014 | Outlet: Park Science 31:118 | Format: .PDF
Modeling false positive detections in species occurrence data under different study designs
Authors: Chambert T, Miller DAW, Nichols JD | Outlet: Ecology | Format: URL
The occurrence of false positive detections in presence-absence data, even when they occur infrequently, can lead to severe bias when estimating species occupancy patterns. Building upon previous efforts to account for this source of observational error (Royle & Link 2006; Miller et al. 2011, 2013), we establish a general framework to model false positives in occupancy studies and extend existing modeling approaches to encompass a broader range of sampling designs. Specifically, we identified three common sampling designs that are likely to cover most scenarios encountered by researchers. The different designs all include ambiguous detections, as well as some known-truth data, but their modeling differs in the level of the model hierarchy at which the known-truth information is incorporated (site-level or observation-level). For each model, we provide the likelihood, as well as R and BUGS code needed for implementation. We also establish a clear terminology and provide guidance to help choosing the most appropriate design and modeling approach.
Glyphosate and its degradation product AMPA occur frequently and widely in U.S. soils, surface water, groundwater, and precipitation
Authors: Battaglin WA, Meyer M, Kuivila K, Dietze J | Date: 2014 | Outlet: Journal of the American Water Resources Association 50(2): 275-290. | Format: URL
Glyphosate use in the US increased from less than 5,000 to more than 80,000 metric tons per year between 1987 and 2007. Glyphosate is popular due to its ease of use on soybean, cotton and corn crops that are genetically modified to tolerate it, utility in no-till farming practices, utility in urban areas, and the perception that it has low toxicity and little mobility in the environment. This compilation is the largest and most comprehensive assessment of the environmental occurrence of glyphosate and AMPA in the US conducted to date, summarizing the results of 3,732 water and sediment and 1,018 quality-assurance samples collected between 2001 and 2010 from 38 States. Results indicate that glyphosate and AMPA are usually detected together, mobile, and occur widely in the environment. Glyphosate was detected without AMPA in only 2.3% of samples, whereas AMPA was detected without glyphosate in 17.9% of samples. Glyphosate and AMPA were detected frequently in soils and sediment, ditches and drains, precipitation, rivers, and streams; and less frequently in lakes, ponds, and wetlands; soil water; and groundwater. Concentrations of glyphosate were below levels of concern for humans or wildlife; however, pesticides are often detected in mixtures. Ecosystem effects of chronic low-level exposures to pesticide mixtures are uncertain. The environmental health risk of low-level detections of glyphosate, AMPA, and associated adjuvants and mixtures remain to be determined.
The effects of hydropattern and predator communities on amphibian occupancy
Authors: Amburgey S, Bailey L, Murphy M, Muths E, Funk W | Date: 2014-09-23 | Outlet: Canadian Journal of Zoology | Format: URL
Complex, interactive ecological constraints regulate species distributions, and understanding these factors is crucial for predicting species persistence. We used occupancy analysis, which corrects for imperfect detection, to test the importance of abiotic and biotic habitat and landscape factors on probability of occupancy by boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata; Agassiz 1850) tadpoles. We hypothesized that hydropattern and predators are primarily important as they affect desiccation and predation risk and can interact in ways difficult to predict. We surveyed 62 wetland sites across an elevational gradient in Colorado, USA and modeled patterns in P. maculata occupancy. Tadpoles were most frequently present in intermediate hydropattern systems with lower desiccation risk and no predatory fish due to occasional drying. P. maculata occupancy had a strong negative relationship with fish presence while tadpoles, odonate larvae and tiger salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium; Baird 1850) frequently co-occurred. Dry seasonal conditions will likely result in fewer intermediate hydropattern ponds available for amphibian breeding. We hypothesize that this will force P. maculata to breed in habitats with fish. As habitats shrink, predators that co-occur with P. maculata are expected to concentrate in the remaining habitat and increase predation risk for developing tadpoles (assuming predators are similarly constricted in their habitat use as amphibians are).
Potential reduction in terrestrial salamander ranges associated with Marcellus shale development
Authors: Brand Adrianne B, Wiewel Amber NM, Grant Evan H Campbell | Outlet: Biological Conservation
Natural gas production from the Marcellus shale is rapidly increasing in the northeastern United States. Most of the endemic terrestrial salamander species in the region are classified as ‘globally secure’ by the IUCN, primarily because much of their ranges include state- and federally protected lands, which have been presumed to be free from habitat loss. However, the proposed and ongoing development of the Marcellus gas resources may result in significant range restrictions for these and other terrestrial forest salamanders. To begin to address the gaps in our knowledge of the direct impacts of shale gas development, we developed occurrence models for five species of terrestrial plethodontid salamanders found largely within the Marcellus shale play. We predicted future Marcellus shale development under several scenarios. Under scenarios of 10000, 20000, and 50000 new gas wells, we predict 4%, 8%, and 20% forest loss, respectively, within the play. Predictions of habitat loss vary among species, but in general, Plethodon electromorphus and P. wehrlei are predicted to lose the greatest proportion of forested habitat within their ranges if future Marcellus predictions are based on characteristics of the shale play. If predictions are based on current well locations, P. richmondi is predicted to lose the greatest proportion of habitat. Models showed high uncertainty in species’ ranges and emphasize the need for distribution data collected by widespread and repeated, randomized surveys.
Short-term occupancy and abundance dynamics of the Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa) across its core range
Authors: Adams MJ, Pearl CA, McCreary B, Galvan SK | Date: 2014-11-03 | Outlet: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1230 | Format: .PDF
The Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) occupies only a fraction of its original range and is listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. We surveyed 93 sites in a rotating panel frame design (2010–13) in the Klamath and Deschutes Basins, Oregon, which encompass most of the species’ core extant range. Oregon spotted frogs are decreasing in probability of both site occupancy and abundance. We did not find an association between the probability that Oregon spotted frogs disappear from a site (local extinction) and any of the variables hypothesized to affect Oregon spotted frog occupancy. This 4-year study provides baseline data, but the 4-year period was too short to draw firm conclusions about current (2014) trends. Further study is essential to understand how habitat changes and management practices relate to the status and trends of this species.