Anuran site occupancy and species richness as tools for evaluating restoration of a hydrologically-modified landscape
A fundamental goal of wetland restoration is to reinstate pre-disturbance hydrological conditions to degraded landscapes, facilitating recolonization by native species and the production of resilient, functional ecosystems. To evaluate restoration success, baseline conditions need to be determined and a reference target needs to be established that will serve as an ecological blueprint in the restoration process. During the summer wet seasons of 2010 and 2011, we used automated recording units to monitor a community of calling anuran amphibians in the Picayune Strand State Forest of southwest Florida, USA. This area is undergoing hydrological restoration as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). We compared occurrence of anurans at sites in the restoration area, to nearby sites in relatively undisturbed habitat. We assessed the utility of the latter as restoration targets, using a hierarchical model of community species occupancy to estimate the probability of occurrence of anurans in restoration and reference locations. We detected 14 species, 13 of which were significantly more likely to occur in reference areas. All 14 species were estimated by our model to occur at these sites but, across both years, only 8–13 species were estimated to occur at restoration sites. The composition and structure of these habitats within and adjacent to the Picayune Strand State Forest indicate that they are suitable targets for habitat restoration, as measured by amphibian occurrence and species richness. These areas are important sources for recolonization of anuran amphibians as the hydrologically degraded Picayune Strand undergoes restoration to mitigate the effects of overdrainage and habitat loss.
|Outlet/Publisher:||Wetlands Ecology and Management 22(6)625-639.|