Recent Products

ARMI biologists are always engaging in different amphibian studies across the country. Here is a list of their most recently published products.

Papers & Reports Biofluorescence in tiger salamanders documented in Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time
Authors: Benjamin Lafrance; Andrew M Ray; Amanda M Kissel; Erin L Muths
Date: 2021-12 | Outlet: Park Science
Recent work has shown that many amphibians are biofluorescent. Biofluorescence describes an organism’s ability to absorb visible and ultraviolet light and re-emit it at a lower energy level (e.g., blue light re-emitted as green fluorescence). However, the function of fluorescence in amphibians is unclear. We observed paedomorphic western tiger salamanders at Lily Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park and obtained the first images recorded at this park of biofluorescence in these animals in response to blue light.
Papers & Reports Using physiological conditions to assess current and future habitat use of a Subarctic frog
Authors: Thomas P Hastings; Blake R Hossack; L Fishback; J M Davenport
Date: 2022 | Outlet: Integrative Zoology
Species with especially close dependence on the environment to meet physiological requirements, such as ectotherms, are highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. Climate change is occurring rapidly in the Subarctic and Arctic, but there is limited knowledge on ectotherm physiology in these landscapes. We investigated how environmental conditions and habitat characteristics influence the physiological conditions and habitat use of wood frogs (Rana sylvatica, LeConte 1825) in a Subarctic landscape near Churchill, Manitoba (Canada). We used plaster models to estimate water loss rates and surface body temperatures among different habitat types and at specific locations used by radio-tracked frogs. Water loss (R^2 = 0.67) and surface temperature (R^2 = 0.80) of plaster models was similar to that of live frogs. Model-based water loss rates were greater in tundra habitat than in boreal forest and ecotone habitat. Habitat use of wood frogs was strongly tied with available surface moisture and decreased water loss rates that were observed with plaster models. Environmental conditions, such as wind speed and ground temperature, explained 58% and 91% of the variation in water balance and temperature of plaster models. Maintaining physiological conditions may be challenging for semi-aquatic ectotherms in environments vulnerable to future climate change. The ability to predict physiological conditions based on environmental conditions, as demonstrated in our study, can help understand how wildlife will respond to climatic changes.
Papers & Reports Long-term monitoring of a species suite of Ecological Indicators: A coordinated conservation framework for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Authors: Andrew M Ray; Melanie A Murphy; Blake R Hossack
Date: 2022-03 | Outlet: Ecological Indicators
Introduction piece for a special issue.
Papers & Reports ring species availability biases occupancy estimates in single-level occupancy models
Authors: Graziella V DiRenzo; David AW Miller; Evan H Campbell Grant
Outlet: Ecology
1. Most applications of single-level occupancy models do not differentiate between availability and detectability, even though species availability is rarely equal to one. The availability process includes elements of species movement, behavior, and phenology, and availability can be estimated using multi-scale occupancy models. However, for the practical application of multi-scale occupancy models, it can be unclear what a robust sampling design looks like and what the statistical properties of the multi-scale and single-level occupancy models are when availability is less than one.

2. Using simulations, we explore the following common questions asked by ecologists during the design phase of a field study: (Q1) what is a robust sampling design for the multi-scale occupancy model when there are a priori expectations of parameter estimates?, (Q2) what is a robust sampling design when we have no expectations of parameter estimates?, and (Q3) can a single-level occupancy model with a random effects term adequately absorb the extra heterogeneity produced when availability is less than one and provide reliable estimates of occupancy probability?.

3. Our results show that there is a tradeoff between the number of sites and surveys needed to achieve a specified level of acceptable error for occupancy estimates using the multi-scale occupancy model. We also document that when species availability is low (< https://0.40 on the probability scale), then single-level occupancy models severely underestimate occupancy by as much as https://0.40 on the probability scale, produce overly precise estimates, and provide poor parameter coverage. This pattern was observed when a random effects term was and was not included in the single-level occupancy model, suggesting that adding a random-effects term does not adequately absorb the extra heterogeneity produced by the availability process. In contrast, when species availability was high (> 0.60), single-level occupancy models performed similarly to the multi-scale occupancy model.

4. As a companion, we provide an RShiny app that allows users to further explore our results and determine optimal designs across different sampling scenarios https://gdirenzo.shinyapps.io/multi-scale-occ/. Our results suggest that unaccounted for availability can lead to underestimating species distributions using single-level occupancy models, which can have large implications on ecological inference and predictions for practitioners, such as those working at the front lines of invasion ecology, disease emergence, and species conservation.
Papers & Reports Identifying factors linked with persistence of reintroduced populations: lessons learned from 25 years of amphibian translocations
Authors: Blake R Hossack
Date: 2022 | Outlet: Global Ecology and Conservation
Most translocation efforts are unsuccessful, often for unknown reasons. We assessed factors linked with population persistence for 25 years of translocations of the federally threatened Chiricahua Leopard Frog. Local features were paramount, including habitat, predators, and restoration history. Timing and life stages stocked affected persistence, but rearing environment did not. Two or more translocations produced an approximate 4-yr increase in predicted population persistence.
Papers & Reports Multi-species amphibian monitoring across a protected landscape: critical reflections on 15 years of wetland monitoring in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks
Authors: Andrew M Ray; Blake R Hossack; W R Gould; S F Spear; Debra A Patla; P S Corn; R W Klaver; Paul E Bartelt; D Thoma; K Legg; R Daley; Charles R Peterson
Outlet: Ecological Indicators
Papers & Reports Late-season movement and habitat use by Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) in a large reservoir in Oregon, USA
Authors: Christopher A Pearl; Jennifer C Rowe; Brome McCreary; Michael J Adams
Date: 2022-03-04 | Outlet: Journal of Herpetology
Dam-created reservoirs are common landscape features that can provide habitat for amphibians, but their water level
fluctuations and nonnative predators can differ markedly from more natural habitats. We compared fall movement and habitat use by the
Oregon Spotted Frog (Rana pretiosa) in the reservoir pool with nearby river and pond habitats at Crane Prairie Reservoir in central
Oregon, USA. Movement rate of frogs in the river and ponds declined as water temperature cooled. Reservoir frogs moved further than
those in the river or ponds, and their movement rate increased as water temperature cooled. Most frog locations across all site types were
in aquatic herbaceous vegetation. We did not find shifts in habitat between early and late fall. Increased movement and the lack of
habitat shift in our reservoir frogs deeper into fall contrast with R. pretiosa in non-reservoir sites in this study and others. Consistent use
of vegetation by reservoir frogs throughout the fall could indicate cover use in presence of fish predators. Our study provides additional
detail on the range of habitats used by R. pretiosa in fall and suggests areas for further work to improve survival in constructed sites with
abundant fish predators.
Papers & Reports Context-dependent variation in persistence of host populations in the face of disease
Authors: Bennett Hardy; Erin L Muths; David N Koons
Date: 2021-12 | Outlet: Journal of Animal Ecology
In Focus: Valenzuela-Sanchez, A., Azat, C., Cunningham, A. A., Delgado, S., Bacigalupe, L. D., Beltrand, J., Serrano, J. M., Sentenac, H., Haddow, N., Toledo, V., Schmidt, B. R., & Cayuela, H. (2022). Interpopulation differences in male reproductive effort drive the population dynamics of a host exposed to an emerging fungal pathogen. Journal of Animal Ecology, XX, XXXX-XXXX. Understanding the nuances of population persistence in the face of a stressor can help predict extinction risk and guide conservation actions. However, the exact mechanisms driving population stability may not always be known. In this paper, Valenzuela-Sanchez et al. (2022) integrate long-term mark-recapture data, focal measurements of reproductive effort, a population matrix model, and inferences on life history variation to reveal differences in demographic response to disease in a susceptible frog species (Rhinoderma darwinii). Valenzuela-Sanchez et al. found that demographic compensation via compensatory recruitment explained the positive population growth rate in their high disease prevalence population whereas the low disease prevalence population did not compensate and thus had decreasing population growth. Compensatory recruitment was likely due to the high probability of males brooding, and the high number of brooded larvae in the high prevalence population compared to low prevalence and disease-free populations. Valenzuela-Sanchez et al. also document faster generation times in the high prevalence population, which may indicate a faster life history that may be contributing to the population’s ability to compensate for reduced survival. Lastly, the authors find a positive relationship between disease prevalence and the number of juveniles in a given population that suggest a possible prevalence threshold when increased reproductive effort may occur. Altogether, their study provides novel support for increased reproductive effort as the pathway for compensatory recruitment leading to increasing population growth despite strong negative effects of disease on adult survival. Their results also caution the overgeneralization of the effects of stressors (e.g., disease) on population dynamics, where context-dependent responses may differ among host populations of a given species.
Papers & Reports Testing whether adrenal steroids mediate phenotypic and physiologic effects of elevated salinity on larval tiger salamanders
Authors: B J Tornabene; E J Crespi; Creagh W Breuner; Blake R Hossack
Outlet: Integrative Zoology
Salinity (sodium chloride, NaCl) from anthropogenic sources is a persistent contaminant that negatively affects freshwater taxa. Amphibians can be susceptible to salinity, but some species are innately or adaptively tolerant. Physiological mechanisms mediating tolerance to salinity are still unclear, but changes in osmoregulatory hormones such as corticosterone (CORT) and aldosterone (ALDO) are prime candidates. We exposed larval barred tiger salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium) to environmentally relevant NaCl treatments (<32–4000 mg·L?1) for 24 days to test effects on growth, survival, and waterborne CORT responses. Of those sampled, we also quantified waterborne ALDO from a subset. Using a glucocorticoid antagonist (RU486), we also experimentally suppressed CORT signaling of some larvae to determine if CORT mediates effects of salinity. There were no strong differences in survival among salinity treatments, but salinity reduced dry mass, snout–vent length, and body condition while increasing water content of larvae. High survival and sublethal effects demonstrated that salamanders were physiologically challenged but could tolerate the experimental concentrations. CORT signaling did not attenuate sublethal effects of salinity. Baseline and stress-induced (after an acute stressor, shaking) CORT were not influenced by salinity. ALDO was correlated with baseline CORT, suggesting it could be difficult to decouple the roles of CORT and ALDO. Future studies comparing ALDO and CORT responses of adaptively tolerant and previously unexposed populations could be beneficial to understand the roles of these hormones in tolerance to salinity. Nevertheless, our study enhances our understanding of the roles of corticosteroid hormones in mediating effects of a prominent anthropogenic stressor.

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