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 Terrestrial Movement Patterns of the Common Toad (Bufo bufo) in Central Spain Reveal Habitat of Conservation Importance
Authors: David R Daversa; Erin Muths; Jaime Bosch
Date: 2012 | Outlet: Journal of Herpetology, 46(4):658-664
Journal of Herpetology, 46(4):658-664
Papers & Reports Terrestrial Movement Patterns of the Common Toad (Bufo bufo) in Central Spain Reveal Habitat of Conservation Importance
Authors: David R Daversa; Erin Muths; Jaime Bosch
Date: 2012 | Outlet: Journal of Herpetology, 46(4):658-664
Journal of Herpetology, 46(4):658-664
Papers & Reports Native amphibian toxin reduces invasive crayfish feeding with potential benefits to stream biodiversity
Authors: Gary Bucciarelli; Sierra J. Smith; Justin J. Choe; Phoebe D. Shin; Robert N Fisher; Lee B Kats
Date: 2023-09-13 | Outlet: BMC Ecology and Evolution 23, 51
Biodiversity is generally reduced when non-native species invade an ecosystem. Invasive crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, populate California freshwater streams, and in the Santa Monica Mountains (Los Angeles, USA), their introduction has led to trophic cascades due to omnivorous feeding behavior and a rapid rate of population growth. The native California newt, Taricha torosa, possesses a neurotoxin, tetrodotoxin (TTX), that affects freshwater animal behavior. Given P. clarkii has a limited evolutionary history with TTX, we hypothesized that TTX may affect crayfish feeding behaviors. To determine if TTX affects P. clarkii behavior, we measured cumulative movement and various feeding behaviors of P. clarkii exposed to (i) waterborne, ecologically realistic concentrations of TTX (~?3.0?×?10??8 moles/L), (ii) an anuran chemical cue to account for intraguild cues, or (iii) a T. torosa chemical cue with quantitated TTX in it (~?6.2?×?10??8 moles/L).

We found that the presence of TTX in any form significantly reduced crayfish movement and decreased the amount of food consumed over time. Crayfish responses to the anuran treatment did not significantly differ from controls.

Our laboratory results show that naturally occurring neurotoxin from native California newts limits invasive crayfish foraging and feeding rates, which may play a role in preserving local stream ecosystems by limiting invasive crayfish behaviors that are detrimental to biodiversity.
Papers & Reports BioLake: A first assessment of lake temperature-derived bioclimatic predictors for aquatic invasive species
Authors: Ryan C Burner; Wesley M. Daniel; Peder S. Engelstad; Christopher J. Churchill; Richard E Erickson
Date: 2023-07-10 | Outlet: Ecosphere 14(7):e4616
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) present major ecological and economic challenges globally, endangering ecosystems and human livelihoods. Managers and policy makers thus need tools to predict invasion risk and prioritize species and areas of concern, and they often use native range climate matching to determine whether a species could persist in a new location. However, climate matching for AIS often relies on air temperature rather than water temperature due to a lack of global water temperature data layers, and predictive power of models is seldom evaluated. We developed 12 global lake (water) temperature-derived “BioLake” bioclimatic layers for distribution modeling of aquatic species and compared “climatch” climate matching predictions (from climatchR package) from BioLake with those based on BioClim temperature layers and with a null model. We did this for 73 established AIS in the United States, training the models on their ranges outside of the United States and Canada. Models using either set of climate layers outperformed the null expectation by a similar (but modest) amount on average, but some species were occasionally found in locations with low climatch scores. Mean US climatch scores were higher for most species when using air temperature. Including additional climate layers in models reduced mean climatch scores, indicating that commonly used climatch score thresholds are not absolute but can be context specific and may require calibration based upon climate data used. Although finer resolution global lake temperature data would likely improve predictions, our BioLake layers provide a starting point for aquatic species distribution modeling. Climate matching was most effective for some species that originated at low latitudes or had small ranges. Climatch scores remain useful but limited for predicting AIS risk, perhaps because current ranges seldom fully reflect climatic tolerances (fundamental niches). Managers could consider climate matching as one of a suite of tools that can be used in AIS prioritization.
Papers & Reports Geographic Distribution. Storeria occipitomaculata
Authors: Aidan G Phillips; William C Carroll; Brad M Glorioso
Date: 2022-12-01 | Outlet: Herpetological Review
Geographic distribution parish record for this snake species
Papers & Reports Thirteen Years of Turtle Capture-Mark-Recapture in a Small Urban Pond Complex in Louisiana, USA
Authors: Brad M Glorioso; Hardin J Waddle; Doug P Armstrong
Date: 2023-09 | Outlet: Journal of Herpetology
Turtles are one of the most imperiled vertebrate groups in the world. With habitat destruction unabated in many places, urban and suburban greenspaces may serve as refugia for turtles, at least those species able to tolerate heavily altered landscapes. In south-central Louisiana, we have conducted a turtle capture-mark-recapture effort in two ponds in an urban greenspace for 13 years to understand species composition, survival, and individual growth rates. We had 574 total captures of 251 individuals of five species from 2009–2021, with Trachemys scripta elegans (Red-eared Sliders) and Sternotherus odoratus (Eastern Musk Turtles) being most common. Apparent annual survival for T. scripta (0.79) was similar to estimates reported in other studies in altered habitats, whereas apparent annual survival for S. odoratus (0.89) was slightly or much higher than other published studies. Growth rates of T. scripta were comparable to other studies and showed both sexes have similar rates of growth until maturity, which is earlier and at a smaller size in males. The two ponds showed marked differences in captures by size, with significantly more juvenile T. scripta captured in the pond with more vegetation, depth, and a softer bottom. Most T. scripta (78.5%) that were recaptured came from the same pond they were originally captured. The basic demographic data gained in this study can serve as a starting point for broader questions on urbanization effects and as a comparison to more natural populations.
Papers & Reports Adjacent and downstream effects of forest harvest on the distribution and abundance of larval headwater stream amphibians in the Oregon Coast Range
Authors: Adam Duarte; Nathan D Chelgren; Jennifer C Rowe; Christopher A Pearl; Sherri L. Johnson; Michael J Adams
Date: 2023-07-21 | Outlet: Forest Ecology and Management
Forest harvest is a primary landscape-scale management action affecting riparian forests. Although concerns about impacts of forest harvest on stream amphibians is generally limited to areas adjacent to harvest, there is a paucity of information regarding potential downstream effects of forest harvest on these species. We designed a before-after, control-impact (BACI) experiment to quantify potential impacts of clearcut logging that included 12-m buffers or smaller variable-width buffers on the distribution and abundance of headwater stream amphibians in adjacent and downstream areas. We sampled larval coastal tailed frogs (Ascaphus truei), coastal giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus), and Columbia torrent salamanders (Rhyacotriton kezeri) across 3,915 sampling occasions that spanned 13 study reaches in 2008–2011 (pre-harvest) and 2013–2016 (post-harvest) as part of the Trask River Watershed Study in the Oregon Coast Range, U.S.A. We analyzed these data using occupancy models to estimate occupancy and (when possible) relative abundance, while accounting for various sources of imperfect detection. All species exhibited reduced occupancy adjacent to clearcuts with variable-width buffers (odds ratios [ORs] ranged = 0.24–0.48), and these negative impacts were not always diminished when increasing the buffer size to 12 m (ORs ranged = 0.20–3.56). Dicamptodon tenebrosus was the only species to have occupancy impacted in downstream areas, and this negative impact was related to clearcut logging with uniform 12-m buffers (OR = 0.60). This species was also the only species to have abundance negatively impacted by forest harvest in downstream areas (OR = https://0.41 with uniform 12-m buffers, OR = https://0.38 with variable-width buffers), albeit impacts to abundance were not evaluated for R. kezeri. Ascaphus truei abundance increased in areas downstream of clearcut logging with uniform 12-m buffers (OR = 2.92). Although we found the direction and magnitude of responses varied by species, our study confirms that clearcut logging can have negative impacts on amphibians that inhabit the adjacent stream areas. Perhaps more importantly, we also found that forest harvest can have negative effects on stream amphibians downstream of the harvested area and that increasing the buffer size to 12 m did not necessarily diminish these impacts in adjacent and downstream areas. Altogether, our study provides a nuanced picture of adjacent and downstream effects of forest harvest on three endemic headwater stream amphibians, and our findings demonstrate that forest management practices should consider downstream effects on aquatic taxa when assessing the impact of harvesting trees near headwater streams.
Papers & Reports Broad-scale Assessment of Methylmercury in Adult Amphibians
Authors: Brian J Tornabene; Blake R Hossack; Brian J Halstead; Collin A Eagles-Smith; Michael J Adams; Adam R Backlin; Adrianne B Brand; Colleen S Emery; Robert N Fisher; Jill Fleming; Brad M Glorioso; Daniel A Grear; Evan HC Grant; Patrick M Kleeman; David AW Miller; Erin Muths; Christopher A Pearl; Jennifer C Rowe; Caitlin T Rumrill; Hardin J Waddle; Megan E Winzeler; Kelly L Smalling
Date: 2023-10-30 | Outlet: Environmental Science & Technology
Mercury (Hg) is a toxic contaminant that has been mobilized and distributed worldwide and is a threat to many wildlife species. Amphibians are facing unprecedented global declines due to many threats, including contaminants. While the bi-phasic life history of many amphibians creates a potential nexus for methylmercury (MeHg) exposure in aquatic habitats and subsequent health effects, the broad-scale distribution of MeHg exposure in amphibians remains unknown. We used non-lethal sampling to assess MeHg bioaccumulation in 3,241 juvenile and adult amphibians during 2017–2021. We sampled 26 populations (14 species) across 11 states in the United States, including several imperiled species that could not have been sampled by traditional lethal methods. We examined whether life history traits of species and whether concentration of total mercury in sediment or dragonflies could be used as indicators of MeHg bioaccumulation in amphibians. Methylmercury contamination was widespread, with a 33-fold difference in concentrations across sites. Variation among years and clustered subsites was less than variation across sites. Life history characteristics such as size, sex, and whether the amphibian was a frog, toad, newt, or other salamander were the factors most strongly associated with bioaccumulation. Total Hg in dragonflies was a reliable indicator of bioaccumulation of MeHg in amphibians (R2 ? 0.67) whereas total Hg in sediment was not (R2 ? 0.04). Our study, the largest broadscale assessment of MeHg bioaccumulation in amphibians, highlights methodological advances that allow for non-lethal sampling of rare species and reveals immense variation among species, life histories, and sites. Our findings can help identify sensitive populations and provide environmentally relevant concentrations for future studies to better quantify potential threats of MeHg to amphibians.
Papers & Reports Assay validation of saliva glucocorticoids in Columbia Spotted Frogs and effects of handling and marking
Authors: Brian J Tornabene; Blake R Hossack; Creagh W Breuner
Date: 2023-10-13 | Outlet: Conservation Physiology: Toolbox
Non-invasive methods are important to conservation physiology to reduce negative effects on the species being studied. Glucocorticoid (GC) hormones are often used to assess health of individuals, but collection methods can be invasive. Many amphibians are imperiled worldwide, and saliva is a non- or semi-invasive matrix to measure GCs that has been partially validated for only four amphibian species. Validation ensures that assays are reliable and can detect changes in saliva corticosterone (sCORT) following exposure to stressors, but it is also necessary to ensure sCORT concentrations are correlated with plasma concentrations. To help validate the use of saliva in assessing CORT responses in amphibians, we captured uniquely marked Columbia Spotted Frogs (Rana luteiventris) on sequential days and collected baseline and stress-induced (after handling) samples. For a subset of individuals, we collected and quantified CORT in both saliva and blood samples, which have not been compared for amphibians. We tested several aspects of CORT responses and, by collecting across separate days, measured repeatability of CORT responses across days. We also evaluated whether methods common to amphibian conservation, such as handling alone or handling, clipping a toe, and tagging elevated sCORT. Similar to previous studies, we show that sCORT is reliable concerning parallelism, recovery, precision, and sensitivity. Saliva CORT was weakly correlated with plasma CORT (R2 = 0.21), and we detected elevations in sCORT after handling, demonstrating biological validation. Toe-clipping and tagging did not increase sCORT over handling alone, but repeated handling elevated sCORT for ~72 hours. However, sCORT responses were highly variable and repeatability was low within individuals and among capture sessions, contrary to previous studies with urinary and waterborne CORT. Saliva CORT is a semi-invasive and rapid technique that could be useful to assess effects of anthropogenic change, and conservation efforts, but will require careful study design and future validation.
Papers & Reports Successful eradication of invasive American bullfrogs leads to co-extirpation of emerging pathogens
Authors: Blake R Hossack; D Hall; C L Crawford; Caren S Goldberg; Erin Muths; Brent H Sigafus; Thierry C Chambert
Date: 2023 | Outlet: Conservation Letters
Interventions of host-pathogen dynamics provide strong tests of relationships, yet they are still rarely applied across multiple populations. After American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) invaded a wildlife refuge where federally threatened Chiricahua Leopard Frogs (R. chiricahuensis) were reintroduced 12 years prior, managers launched a landscape-scale eradication effort to help ensure continued recovery of the native species. We used a before-after-control-impact (BACI) design and environmental DNA sampling of 19 eradication sites and 18 control sites between fall 2016 and winter 2020–2021 to measure community-level responses to bullfrog eradication, including for 2 pathogens. Dynamic occupancy models revealed successful eradication from 94% of treatment sites. Native amphibians did not respond to bullfrog eradication, but the pathogens amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and ranaviruses were co-extirpated with bullfrogs. Our spatially replicated experimental approach provides strong evidence that management of invasive species can simultaneously reduce predation and disease risk for imperiled species.

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