Hydroperiod and previous breeding success influence recruitment dynamics for a declining amphibian species

Authors: J Crockett; Erin Muths; Larissa L Bailey
Contribution Number: 754



Populations of pond-breeding amphibians often have boom and bust patterns in recruitment, with large numbers of individuals metamorphosing in some years and few or none in other years. Environmental processes, such as pond freezing and drying, and biological factors (e.g., disease and predator community) can influence survival of early life stages and the probability of complete reproductive failure for amphibian populations. We used multi-state occupancy models to estimate probability of breeding and successful metamorphosis (the complements of reproductive failure), and explored environmental and biological factors influencing these processes.We applied both static and dynamic multistate occupancy modeling techniques to ten years (2001-2010) of boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) data from 116 sites, and tested relationships between these probabilities and the presence of a pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), elevation, hydrology, relative snowpack in a given year, and the presence of trout (Onchorhyncus spp., Salvelinus fontinalis, and Salmo trutta). The probability of breeding at a site was influenced by elevation, with higher-elevation sites more likely to support breeding. The probability of metamorphosis, given breeding, was influenced by an interaction between hydrology and relative annual snowpack. The probability of metamorphosis was higher at ephemeral sites in years of relatively high snowpack, while at permanent sites, years of low snowpack lead to higher probabilities of metamorphosis. Across all sites, the probability of metamorphosis was high (0.75) for years with median snowpack levels at sites with recent breeding attempts, but lower (0.25) at newly colonized sites. Our results suggest that boreal toads are well-adapted to their current habitat, with both ephemeral and permanent sites likely to support breeding in years of median snowpack. However shifts in precipitation patterns or temperatures may have negative impacts on this species.

Publication details
Published Date: 2020-02
Outlet/Publisher: Population Ecology, 62(2), pp.258-268.
Media Format: .PDF

ARMI Organizational Units:
Rocky Mountains, Southern - Biology
Disease; Drought; Management; Species and their Ecology
Place Names:
Colorado; Rocky Mountain National Park
amphibians; Bd; climate; conservation; disease; drought; fish; hydroperiod; management; persistence; reintroduction
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