Integrating amphibian movement studies across scales better informs conservation decisions

Authors: L L Bailey; Erin Muths
Contribution Number: 705

Numerous papers have highlighted the need to integrate amphibian research and conservation across multiple scales. Despite this, most amphibian movement studies focus on a single level of organization (e.g., local population) and a single life stage (e.g., adults) and many suggest potential conservation actions or imply that the information is useful to conservation, yet these presumptions are rarely clarified or tested. Movement studies to date provide little information to guide conservation decisions directly because they fail to integrate movement across scales with individual or population parameters (i.e., fitness metrics); this is exacerbated by a general failure to set movement studies in a probabilistic context. An integrative approach allows prediction of population or metapopulation responses to environmental changes and different management actions, thus directly informing conservation decisions and ‘moving the needle’ towards an informed application of conservation actions. To support this perspective we: 1) revisit reviews of amphibian movement to illustrate the focus on single scales and to underscore the importance of movement – at all scales – to conservation; 2) make the case that movement, breeding, and other demographic probabilities are intertwined and studies executed at different temporal and spatial scales can aid in understanding species’ responses to varying environmental and/or management conditions; 3) identify limitations of existing movement-related research to predict conservation action outcomes and inform decision-making; and 4) highlight under-utilized quantitative approaches that facilitate research that either connects movement to fitness metrics (individual-level studies) or estimates population and metapopulation vital rates in addition to, or associated with, movement probabilities.

Publication details
Published Date: 2019-07
Outlet/Publisher: Biological Conservation
Media Format: .PDF

ARMI Organizational Units:
Rocky Mountains, Southern - Biology
Management; Species and their Ecology
Place Names:
amphibians; ARMI; behavior; connectivity; demographics; mark-recapture; movement; threatened species
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