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33 record(s) found.

Papers & Reports Staggered-entry analysis of breeding and occupancy dynamics of Arizona Toads from historically occupied habitats of New Mexico, USA
Authors: M J Forzley; M J Ryan; I M Latella; J T Giermakowski; Erin Muths; Brent H Sigafus; Blake R Hossack
Outlet: Copeia
For species with variable phenology, it is often challenging to produce reliable estimates of population dynamics or changes in occupancy. The Arizona Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus) is a southwestern USA endemic that has been petitioned for legal protection, but status assessments are limited by a lack of information on population trends. Also, timing and consistency of Arizona Toad breeding varies greatly, making it difficult to predict optimal survey times or effort required for detection. To help fill these information gaps, we conducted breeding season call surveys during 2013–2016 and 2019 at 86 historically occupied sites and 59 control sites across the species’ range in New Mexico. We estimated variation in mean dates of arrival and departure from breeding sites, changes in occupancy, and site-level extinction since 1959 with recently developed multi-season staggered-entry models, which relax the within-season closure assumption common to most occupancy models. Optimal timing of surveys in our study areas was approximately March 5 - March 30. Averaged across years, estimated probability of occupancy was 0.58 (SE = 0.09) for historical sites and 0.19 (SE = 0.08) for control sites. Occupancy increased from 2013 through 2019. Notably, even though observer error was trivial, annual detection probabilities varied from 0.23 to 0.75 and declined during the study; this means naïve occupancy values would have been misleading, indicating apparent declines in toad occupancy. Occupancy was lowest during the first year of the study, possibly due to changes in stream flows and conditions in many waterbodies following extended drought and recent wildfires. Although within-season closure was violated by variable calling phenology, simple multi-season models provided nearly identical estimates as staggered-entry models. Surprisingly, extinction probability was unrelated to the number of years since the first or last record at historically occupied sites. Collectively, our results suggest a lack of large, recent declines in occupancy by Arizona Toads in New Mexico, but we still lack population information from most of the species’ range.
Papers & Reports The Coyote Mountains’ Desert Snail (Sonorelix harperi carrizoensis), a Lazarus Species with the First Documentation of Live Individuals
Authors: R N Fisher; S R Fisher
Date: 2020-08 | Outlet: Bulletin Southern California Academy of Sciences 119:49-54.
The Coyote Mountain desert snail (Sonorelix harperi carrizoensis) was described in 1937 from 30 dry shells collected the previous year. We reviewed the literature and museum records and found two additional shell collections for this subspecies from the type locality one from 1958, and one from an adjacent mountain range in 1938. There is no evidence previously of any live snails being collected from the Coyote Mountains, Imperial County, California. All shell collections of S. harperi carrizoensis have the same locality data as the type series, which is Painted Gorge, Coyote Mountains except for one recorded collection of shells from the Vallecito Mountains from 1938. Using geological maps and other data sources, a potential mesic habitat was identified in the Coyote Mountains. During recent field work for salamanders at this location we detected two live specimens of S. harperi carrizoensis approximately 2 km north of its type location. This new data confirms this subspecies is still extant and has occurred at least at two sites historically in these mountains. Despite the presence of mesic habitats (i.e., mosses, liverworts and ferns) at the type locality, we found no evidence of S. harperi carrizoensis or salamanders.
Papers & Reports When Introduced Prey Violates Trophic Hierarchy: Conservation of an Endangered Predator
Authors: Richard Kim; Brian J Halstead; E Routman; J Andersen
Date: 2021-03-03 | Outlet: Biological Conservation 256
Introduced species often disrupt established food webs, but some native predators can come to rely on introduced prey. Understanding the net effects of the non-natives on imperiled predators is crucial for planning conservation measures. The invasive American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) can be prey, predator, and competitor for the critically endangered San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia). We examined the seasonal prey use of a San Francisco garter snake population that co-occurs with American bullfrogs to examine intraguild predation between these species. Juvenile and adult snakes mainly consumed native anurans instead of American bullfrogs, and this diet pattern peaked in spring, a critical foraging period for the snakes. In spring, large adult American bullfrogs also foraged heavily on native anurans and displayed a high degree of diet overlap with San Francisco garter snakes. Invasive American bullfrogs are detrimental to San Francisco garter snakes mainly through seasonal competition rather than reciprocal predation. Removal of invasive species provided further evidence that eliminating American bullfrogs can benefit San Francisco garter snakes by reducing predation pressure on their shared amphibian prey. Better understanding the interactions of invasive species with native species of conservation concern informs management practices and improves conservation outcomes.
Papers & Reports Survival estimates for the invasive American Bullfrog
Authors: P E Howell; Erin Muths; Brent H Sigafus; Blake R Hossack
Outlet: Amphibia-Reptilia
We used five years of capture mark-recapture data to estimate annual apparent survival of post-metamorphic bullfrogs in a population on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in their invaded range in Arizona, U.S.A.
Papers & Reports Estimating inundation of small waterbodies with sub-pixel analysis of Landsat imagery: long-term trends in surface water area and evaluation of common drought indices
Authors: I Sall; Christopher J Jarchow; Brent H Sigafus; Lisa A Eby; M J Forzley; Blake R Hossack
Outlet: Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation
Small waterbodies are numerically dominant in many landscapes and provide several important ecosystem services, but automated measurement of waterbodies smaller than a standard Landsat pixel (0.09 ha) remains challenging. To further evaluate sub-Landsat pixel techniques for estimating inundation extent of small waterbodies (basin area: 0.061.79 ha), we used a partial spectral unmixing method with matched filtering applied to September 1985–2018 Landsat 5 and 8 imagery from southern Arizona, USA. We estimated trends in modeled surface water area each September and evaluated the ability of several common drought indices to explain variation in mean water area. Our methods accurately classified waterbodies as dry or inundated (Landsat 5: 91.3%; Landsat 8: 98.9%) and modeled and digitized surface water areas were strongly correlated (R2 = 0.700.92; bias = -0.024 – -0.015 ha). Estimated surface water area was best explained by the 3-month seasonal standardized precipitation index (SPI03; July?September) and. We found a wide range of estimated relationships between drought indices (e.g., SPI vs. Palmer Drought Severity Index) and estimated water area, even for different durations of the same drought index (e. g., SPI01 vs SPI12). Mean surface area of waterbodies decreased by ~14% from September 1985 to September 2018, which matched declines in annual precipitation in the area and is consistent with broader trends of reduced inundation extent based on larger waterbodies. Estimated of surface water area and trends over time were also consistent when we limited analyses to waterbodies ? 0.04 ha or those that varied most in size (based on CV). These results emphasize the importance of understanding local systems when relying on drought indices to infer variation in past or future surface water dynamics. Several challenges remain before widespread application of sub-pixel methods is feasible, but our results provide further evidence that partial spectral unmixing with matched filtering provides reliable measures of inundation extent of small waterbodies.
Papers & Reports Amphibian responses in the aftermath of extreme climate events
Authors: G Bucciarelli; M Clark; K S Delaney; S Riley; H Shaffer; R N Fisher; R L Honeycutt; L Kats
Date: 2020-02-25 | Outlet: Scientific Reports 10:3409
Climate change-induced extinctions are estimated to eliminate one in six known species by the end
of the century. One major factor that will contribute to these extinctions is extreme climatic events.
Here, we show the ecological impacts of recent record warm air temperatures and simultaneous peak
drought conditions in California. From 2008–2016, the southern populations of a wide-ranging endemic
amphibian (the California newt, Taricha torosa) showed a 20% reduction to mean body condition and
significant losses to variation in body condition linked with extreme climate deviations. However,
body condition in northern populations remained relatively unaffected during this period. Range-wide
population estimates of change to body condition under future climate change scenarios within the
next 50 years suggest that northern populations will mirror the loss of body condition recently observed
in southern populations. This change is predicated on latter 21st century climate deviations that
resemble recent conditions in Southern California. Thus, the ecological consequences of climate change
have already occurred across the warmer, drier regions of Southern California, and our results suggest
that predicted climate vulnerable regions in the more mesic northern range likely will not provide
climate refuge for numerous amphibian communities.
Papers & Reports Using Full and Partial Unmixing Algorithms to Estimate the Inundation Extent of Small, Isolated Stock Ponds in an Arid Landscape
Authors: Christopher J Jarchow; Brent H Sigafus; Erin Muths; Blake R Hossack
Date: 2019-08 | Outlet: Wetlands
Many natural wetlands around the world have disappeared or been replaced, resulting in the dependence of many wildlife species on small, artificial earthen stock ponds. These ponds provide critical wildlife habitat, such that the accurate detection of water and assessment of inundation extent is required. We applied a full (linear spectral mixture analysis; LSMA) and partial (matched filtering; MF) spectral unmixing algorithm to a 2007 Landsat 5 and a 2014 Landsat 8 satellite image to determine the ability of a time-intensive (i.e., more spectral input; LSMA) vs. a more efficient (less spectral input; MF) spectral unmixing approach to detect and estimate surface water area of stock ponds in southern Arizona, USA and northern Sonora, Mexico. Spearman rank correlations (rs) between modeled and actual inundation areas less than a single Landsat pixel (< 900 m2) were low for both techniques (rs range = 0.22 to 0.62), but improved for inundation areas > 900 m2 (rs range = 0.34 to 0.70). Our results demonstrate that the MF approach can model ranked inundation extent of known pond locations with results comparable to or better than LSMA, but further refinement is required for estimating absolute inundation areas and mapping wetlands < 1 Landsat pixel.
Papers & Reports A statistical forecasting approach to metapopulation viability analysis
Authors: P E Howell; Blake R Hossack; Erin Muths; Brent H Sigafus; A Chenevert-Steffler; R B Chandler
Date: 2020 | Outlet: Ecological Applications 2020:e02038
Conservation of at-risk species is aided by reliable forecasts of the consequences of environmental change and management actions on population viability. Forecasts from conventional population viability analysis (PVA) are made using a two-step procedure in which parameters are estimated, or elicited from expert opinion, and then plugged into a stochastic population model without accounting for parameter uncertainty. Recently-developed statistical PVAs differ because forecasts are made conditional on models that are fitted to empirical data. The statistical forecasting approach allows for uncertainty about parameters, but it has rarely been applied in metapopulation contexts where spatially-explicit inference is needed about colonization and extinction dynamics and other forms of stochasticity that influence metapopulation viability. We conducted a statistical metapopulation viability analysis (MPVA) using 11 years of data on the federally-threatened Chiricahua leopard frog to forecast responses to landscape heterogeneity, drought, environmental stochasticity, and management. We evaluated several future environmental scenarios and pond restoration options designed to reduce extinction risk. Forecasts over a 50-yr time horizon indicated that metapopulation extinction risk was <8% for all scenarios, but uncertainty was high. Without pond restoration, extinction risk is forecasted to be 5.6% (95% CI: 0?60%) by year 2060. Restoring six ponds by increasing hydroperiod reduced extinction risk to 1.0% (0 ? 11%) in year 2060. We found little evidence that drought influences metapopulation viability when managers have the ability to maintain ponds that hold water throughout the year and are free of invasive species. Our study illustrates the utility of the spatially explicit statistical forecasting approach to MPVA in conservation planning efforts.
Papers & Reports Drought-mediated extinction of an arid-land amphibian: insights from a spatially explicit dynamic occupancy model
Authors: E R Zylstra; D E Swann; Blake R Hossack; Erin Muths; R J Steidl
Outlet: Ecological Applications 29: e01859
Understanding how natural and anthropogenic processes affect population dynamics of species with patchy distributions is critical to predicting their responses to environmental changes. Despite considerable evidence that demographic rates and dispersal patterns vary temporally in response to an array of biotic and abiotic processes, few applications of metapopulation theory have sought to explore factors that explain spatio-temporal variation in extinction or colonization rates. To facilitate exploring these factors, we extended a spatially explicit model of metapopulation dynamics to create a framework that requires only binary presence-absence data, makes few assumptions about the dispersal process, and accounts for imperfect detection. We apply this framework to 22 years of biannual survey data for lowland leopard frogs, Lithobates yavapaiensis, an amphibian that inhabits arid stream systems in the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. Our results highlight the importance of accounting for factors that govern temporal variation in transition probabilities, as both extinction and colonization rates varied with hydrologic conditions. Specifically, local extinctions were more frequent during drought periods, particularly at sites without reliable surface water. Colonization rates increased when larval and dispersal periods were wetter than normal, which increased the probability that potential emigrants metamorphosed and reached neighboring sites. Extirpation of frogs from one watershed during a period of severe drought demonstrated the influence of site-level features, as frogs persisted only in areas where most sites held water consistently and where the amount of sediment deposited from high-elevation wildfires was low. Application of our model provided novel insights into how climate-related processes affected the distribution and population dynamics of an arid-land amphibian. The approach we describe has application to a wide array of species that inhabit patchy environments, can improve our understanding of factors that govern metapopulation dynamics, and can inform strategies for conservation of imperiled species.
Papers & Reports Twenty-nine years of population dynamics in a small-bodied montane amphibian
Authors: Erin Muths; R D Scherer; S Amburgey; P S Corn
Outlet: Ecosphere
Identifying population declines before they reach crisis proportions is imperative given the current global decline in vertebrate fauna and the associated challenges and expense of recovery. Understanding life-histories and how the environment influences demography are critical aspects of this challenge, as is determining the biological relevance of covariates that are best supported by data. We used 29 years of data on chorus frogs at two sites to estimate demographic parameters, examine life-history, assess weather-related covariates, and determine the magnitude of process variation in target parameters. Average estimates of survival probabilities were 0.51 (SE=0.04) and 0.43 (SE=0.04), and average estimates of recruitment probabilities were 0.64 (SE=0.07) and 0.44 (SE=0.04). Process variation accounted for &#61619; 76% of the total temporal variation in both parameters at one pond and in survival probability alone at the other, suggesting that the covariates in our top models were explaining predominantly process rather than sampling variation. Estimates of population growth rates indicated a declining population at one pond (i.e., negative population growth rates in 15 of 18 years) and comparisons with historical estimates suggested declines in survival probability at the other. The amount of deviance explained was low, providing little support for the influence of covariates on target parameters, despite model selection support. Synthesis and applications: This analysis illustrates the value of disentangling components of variance when assessing demographic drivers and highlights the need for adequate demographic information in assigning conservation labels.
Papers & Reports Longevity and population age structure of the arroyo southwestern toad (Anaxyrus californicus) with drought implications
Authors: R N Fisher; C S Brehme; S A Hathaway; T Hovey; M L Warburton; D Stokes
Date: 2018-05-20 | Outlet: Ecology and Evolution
The arroyo southwestern toad is a specialized and federally endangered amphibian endemic to the coastal plains and mountains of central and southern California and northwestern Baja California. It is largely unknown how long these toads live in natural systems, how their population demographics vary across occupied drainages, and how hydrology affects age structure. We used skeletochronology to estimate the ages of adult arroyo toads in seven occupied drainages with varying surface water hydrology in southern California. We processed 179 adult toads with age estimates between one and six years. Comparisons between skeletochronological ages and known ages of PIT tagged toads showed that skeletochronology likely underestimated toad age by up to two years, indicating they may live to seven or eight years, but nonetheless major patterns were evident. Arroyo toads showed sexual size dimorphism with adult females reaching a maximum size of 12mm greater than males. Population age structure also varied among the sites. Age structure at sites with seasonally predictable surface water was biased toward younger individuals, which indicated stable recruitment for these populations. In contrast, age structures at the ephemeral sites were biased toward older individuals with cohorts roughly corresponding to higher rainfall years. These populations are driven by surface water availability, a stochastic process, and are thus more unstable. Based on our estimates of toad ages, climate predictions of extreme and prolonged drought events could mean that the number of consecutive dry years could surpass the maximum life span of toads making them vulnerable to extirpation, especially in ephemeral freshwater systems. Understanding the relationship between population demographics and hydrology is essential for predicting species resilience to projected changes in weather and rainfall patterns. The arroyo toad serves as a model for understanding potential species responses to long term climatic and hydrologic changes in Mediterranean stream systems. We recommend development of adaptive management strategies to address these threats.
Papers & Reports Increasing connectivity between metapopulation ecology and landscape ecology
Authors: P E Howell; Erin Muths; Blake R Hossack; Brent H Sigafus; R B Chandler
Date: 2018-02 | Outlet: Ecology 99(5), 2018, pp. 1119–1128
Abstract. Metapopulation ecology and landscape ecology aim to understand how spatial structure
influences ecological processes, yet these disciplines address the problem using fundamentally different modeling approaches. Metapopulation models describe how the spatial distribution of patches affects colonization and extinction, but often do not account for the heterogeneity in the landscape between patches. Models in landscape ecology use detailed descriptions of landscape structure, but often without considering colonization and extinction dynamics. We present a novel spatially explicit modeling framework for narrowing the divide between these disciplines to advance understanding of the effects of landscape structure on metapopulation dynamics. Unlike previous efforts, this framework allows for statistical inference on landscape resistance to colonization using empirical data. We demonstrate the approach using 11 yr of data on a threatened amphibian in a desert ecosystem. Occupancy data for Lithobates chiricahuensis (Chiricahua leopard frog) were collected on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (BANWR), Arizona, USA from 2007 to 2017 following a reintroduction in 2003. Results indicated that colonization dynamics were influenced by both patch characteristics and landscape structure. Landscape resistance increased with increasing elevation and distance to the nearest streambed. Colonization rate was also influenced by patch quality, with semi-permanent and permanent ponds contributing substantially more to the colonization of neighboring ponds relative to intermittent ponds. Ponds that only hold water intermittently also had the highest extinction rate. Our modeling framework can be widely applied to understand metapopulation dynamics in complex landscapes, particularly in systems in which the environment between habitat patches influences the colonization process.
Papers & Reports Declines revisited: long-term recovery and spatial population dynamics of tailed frog larvae after wildfire
Authors: Blake R Hossack; R K Honeycutt
Outlet: Biological Conservation
Drought has fueled an increased frequency and severity of large wildfires in many ecosystems. Despite an increase in research on wildfire effects on vertebrates, the vast majority of it has focused on short-term (&lt;5 yrs) effects and there is still little information on the time scale of population recovery for species that decline in abundance after fire. In 2003, a large wildfire in Montana (USA) burned the watersheds of four of eight streams that we sampled for larval Rocky Mountain tailed frogs (Ascaphus montanus) in 2001. Surveys during 2004?2005 revealed reduced abundance of larvae in burned streams relative to unburned streams, with greater declines associated with increased fire extent. Rocky Mountain tailed frogs have low vagility and have several unusual life-history traits that could slow population recovery, including an extended larval period (4 yrs), delayed sexual maturity (6?8 yrs), and low fecundity (&lt;50 eggs/yr). To determine if abundance remained depressed since the 2003 wildfire, we repeated surveys during 2014?2015 and found relative abundance of larvae in burned and unburned streams had nearly converged to pre-fire conditions within two generations. The negative effects of burn extent on larval abundance weakened &gt;58% within 12 yrs after the fire. We also found moderate synchrony among populations in unburned streams and negative spatial autocorrelation among populations in burned streams. We suspect negative spatial autocorrelation among spatially-clustered burned streams reflected increased post-fire patchiness in resources and different rates of local recovery. Our results add to a growing body of work that suggests populations in intact ecosystems tend to be resilient to habitat changes caused by wildfire. Our results also provide important insights into recovery times of populations that have been negatively affected by severe wildfire.
Papers & Reports Occurrence of Amphibians in Northern California Coastal Dune Drainages
Authors: Brian J Halstead; Patrick M Kleeman
Date: 2017-07 | Outlet: Northwestern Naturalist 98(2):91-100
Many coastal dune ecosystems have been degraded by non-native dune vegetation, but these systems might still provide valuable habitat for some taxa, including amphibians. Because restoration of degraded dune systems is occurring and likely to continue, we examined the occurrence of amphibians in drainages associated with a coastal dune ecosystem degraded by invasive plants (European Beachgrass, Ammophila arenaria, and Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis). We found that occupancy of 3 amphibian species (California Red-legged Frog, Rana draytonii; Sierran Treefrog, Hyliola sierra; and Rough-skinned Newt, Taricha granulosa) among 21 coastal dune drainages was high, with most coastal dune drainages occupied by all 3 species. Furthermore, reproduction of Sierran Treefrogs and California Red-legged Frogs was estimated to occur in approximately 1/2 and 1/3; of the drainages, respectively. The probability of occurrence of Rough-skinned Newts and pre-metamorphic life stages of both anurans decreased during the study, perhaps because of ongoing drought in California or precipitation-induced changes in phenology during the final year of the study. Maintaining structural cover and moist features during dune restoration will likely benefit native amphibian populations inhabiting coastal dune ecosystems.
Papers & Reports Informing recovery in a human-transformed landscape: drought-mediated coexistence alters population trends of an imperiled salamander and invasive predators
Authors: Blake R Hossack; R K Honeycutt; Brent H Sigafus; Erin Muths; C L Crawford; T R Jones,; J A Sorensen; J C Rorabaugh; Thierry C Chambert
Date: 2017-03-16 | Outlet: Biological Conservation 209 (2017) 377–394
Understanding the additive or interactive threats of habitat transformation and invasive species is critical for conservation, especially where climate change is expected to increase the severity or frequency of drought. In the arid southwestern USA, this combination of stressors has caused widespread declines of native aquatic and semi-aquatic species. Achieving resilience to drought and other effects of climate change may depend upon continued management, so understanding the combined effects of stressors is important. We used Bayesian hierarchical models fitted with 10-yrs of pond-based monitoring surveys for the federally-endangered Sonoran Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma mavortium stebbinsi) and invasive predators (fishes and American Bullfrogs, Lithobates catesbeianus) that threaten native species. We estimated trends in occupancy of salamanders and invasive predators while accounting for hydrological dynamics of ponds, then used a two-species interaction model to directly estimate how invasive predators affected salamander occupancy. We also tested a conceptual model that predicted that drought, by limiting the distribution of invasive predators, could ultimately benefit native species. Even though occupancy of invasive predators was stationary and their presence in a pond reduced the probability of salamander presence by 23%, occupancy of Sonoran Tiger Salamanders increased, annually, by 2.2%. Occupancy of salamanders and invasive predators both declined dramatically following the 5th consecutive year of drought. Salamander occupancy recovered quickly after return to non-drought conditions, while occupancy of invasive predators remained suppressed. Models that incorporated three time-lagged periods (1 to 4 yrs) of local moisture conditions confirmed that salamanders and invasive predators responded differently to drought, reflecting how life-history strategies shape responses to disturbances. The positive 10-yr trend in salamander occupancy and their rapid recovery after drought provided partial support for the hypothesis of drought-mediated coexistence with invasive predators. These results also suggest management opportunities for conservation of the Sonoran Tiger Salamander and other imperiled organisms in human-transformed landscapes.
Papers & Reports A Discrete Stage-Structured Model of California Newt Population Dynamics During a Period of Drought
Authors: M T Jones; W R Millligan; L B Kats; T L Vandergon; R L Honeycutt; R N Fisher; Courtney L Davis; T A Lucas
Date: 2017 | Outlet: Journal of Theoretical Biology 414:245-253
We introduce a mathematical model for studying the population dynamics under drought of the California newt (Taricha torosa), a species of special concern in the state of California. Since 2012, California has experienced a record-setting drought, and multiple studies predict drought conditions currently underway will persist and even increase in severity. Recent declines and local extinctions of California newt populations in Santa Monica Mountain streams motivate our study of the impact of drought on newt population sizes. Although newts are terrestrial salamanders, they migrate to streams each spring to breed and lay eggs. Since egg and larval stages occur in water, a precipitation deficit due to drought conditions reduces the space for newt egg-laying and the necessary habitat for larval development. To mathematically forecast newt population dynamics, we develop a nonlinear system of discrete equations that includes demographic parameters such as survival rates for newt life stages and egg production, which depend on habitat availability and rainfall. We estimate these demographic parameters using 15 years of stream survey data collected from Cold Creek in Los Angeles County, California, and our model captures the observed decline of the parameterized Cold Creek newt population. Based upon data analysis, we predict how the number of available newt egg-laying sites varies with annual precipitation. Our model allows us to make predictions about how the length and severity of drought can affect the likelihood of persistence and the time to critical endangerment of a local newt population. We predict that sustained severe drought will critically endanger the newt population but that the newt population can rebound if a drought is sufficiently short.
Papers & Reports Identifying small depressional wetlands and using a topographic position index to infer hydroperiod regimes for pond-breeding amphibians
Authors: Jeffrey W Riley; Daniel L Calhoun; William J Barichivich; Susan C Walls
Date: 2017-01-17 | Outlet: Wetlands 37(2):325-228.
Small, seasonal pools and temporary ponds (<4.0ha) are the most numerous and biologically diverse wetlands in many natural landscapes. Thus, accurate determination of their numbers and spatial characteristics is beneficial for conservation and management of biodiversity associated with these freshwater systems. We examined the utility of a topographic position index (TPI) landscape classification to identify and classify depressional wetlands. We also assessed relationships between topographic characteristics and ponded duration of known wetlands to allow hydrological characteristics to be extended to non-monitored locations. Our results indicate that this approach was successful at identifying wetlands, but did have higher errors of commission (10%) than omission (5%). Additionally, the TPI procedure provided a reasonable means to correlate general ponded duration characteristics (long/short) with wetland topography. Although results varied by hydrologic class, permanent/long ponded duration wetlands were more often classified correctly (80%) than were short ponded duration wetlands (67%). However, classification results were improved to 100% and 75% for permanent/long and short ponded duration wetlands, respectively, by removing wetlands occurring on an abrupt marine terrace that erroneously inflated pond topographic characteristics. Our study presents an approach for evaluating wetland suitability for species or guilds that are associated with key habitat characteristics, such as hydroperiod.
Papers & Reports Additive impacts of experimental climate change increase risk to an ectotherm at the Arctic’s edge
Authors: J M Davenport; Blake R Hossack; L Fishback
Outlet: Global Change Biology
Globally, Arctic and Subarctic regions have experienced the greatest temperature increases during the last 30 years. These extreme changes have amplified threats to the freshwater ecosystems that dominate the landscape in many areas by altering water budgets. Several studies in temperate environments have examined the adaptive capacity of organisms to enhance our understanding of the potential repercussions of warming and associated accelerated drying for freshwater ecosystems. However, few experiments have examined these impacts in Arctic or Subarctic freshwater ecosystems, where the climate is changing most rapidly. To evaluate the capacity of a widespread ectotherm to anticipated environmental changes, we conducted a mesocosm experiment with wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) in the Canadian Subarctic. Three warming treatments were fully crossed with three drying treatments to simulate a range of predicted changes in wetland environments. We predicted wetland warming and drying would act synergistically, with water temperature partially compensating for some of the negative effects of accelerated drying. Across all drying regimes, a 1°C increase in water temperature increased the odds of survival by 1.79, and tadpoles in 52-day and 64-day hydroperiod mesocosms were 4.1–4.3 times more likely to survive to metamorphosis than tadpoles in 45-day mesocosms. For individuals who survived to metamorphosis, there was only a weak negative effect of temperature on size. As expected, increased temperatures accelerated tadpole growth through day 30 of the experiment. Our results reveal that one of the dominant herbivores in Subarctic wetlands, wood frog tadpoles, are capable of increasing their developmental rates in response to increased temperature and accelerated drying, but only in an additive manner. The strong negative effects of drying on survival, combined with lack of compensation between these two environmental drivers, suggest changes in the aquatic environment that are expected in this ecosystem will reduce mean fitness of populations across the landscape.
Papers & Reports Amphibian dynamics in constructed ponds on a wildlife refuge: developing expected responses to hydrological restoration
Authors: Blake R Hossack
Date: 2016 | Outlet: Hydrobiologia
Management actions are based upon predictable responses. To form expected responses to restoration actions, I estimated habitat relationships and trends (2002&amp;#8210;2015) for four pond-breeding amphibians on a wildlife refuge (Montana, USA) where changes to restore historical hydrology to the system greatly expanded (&amp;#8805;8 times) the flooded area of the primary breeding site for western toads (Anaxyrus boreas). Additional restoration actions are planned for the near future, including removing ponds that provide amphibian habitat. Multi-season occupancy models based on data from 15 ponds sampled during 7 years revealed that the number of breeding subpopulations increased modestly for Columbia spotted frogs (Rana luteiventris) and was stationary for long-toed salamanders (Ambystoma macrodactylum) and Pacific treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla). For these three species, pond depth was the characteristic that was associated most frequently with occupancy or changes in colonization and extinction. In contrast, a large decrease in colonization by western toads explained the decline from eight occupied ponds in 2002 to two ponds in 2015. This decline occurred despite an increase in wetland area and the colonization of a newly-created pond. These changes highlight the challenges of managing for multiple species and how management responses can be unpredictable, possibly reducing the efficacy of targeted actions.
Papers & Reports Life history plasticity does not confer resilience to environmental change in the mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum)
Authors: Courtney L Davis; David AW Miller; Susan C Walls; William J Barichivich; Jeffrey W Riley; Mary E Brown
Date: 2017-03 | Outlet: Oecologia 183(3):739-749.
Plasticity in life history strategies can be advantageous for species that occupy spatially or temporally variable environments. We examined how phenotypic plasticity influences responses of the mole salamander, Ambystoma talpoideum, to disturbance events at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (SMNWR), FL, USA from 2009 to 2014. We observed periods of extensive drought early in the study, in contrast to high rainfall and expansive flooding events in later years. Flooding facilitated colonization of predatory fishes to isolated wetlands across the refuge. We employed multistate occupancy models to determine how this natural experiment influenced the occurrence of aquatic larvae and paedomorphic adults and what implications this may have for the population. We found that, in terms of occurrence, responses to environmental variation differed between larvae and paedomorphs, but plasticity (i.e. the ability to metamorphose rather than remain in the aquatic environment) was not sufficient to buffer populations from declining as a result of environmental perturbations. Drought and fish presence negatively influenced occurrence dynamics of larval and paedomorphic mole salamanders and, consequently, contributed to observed short-term declines of this species. Overall occurrence of larval salamanders decreased from 0.611 in 2009 to 0.075 in 2014 and paedomorph occurrence decreased from 0.311 in 2009 to 0.121 in 2014. Although variation in selection pressures has likely maintained this polyphenism previously, our results suggest that continued changes in environmental variability and the persistence of fish in isolated wetlands could lead to a loss of paedomorphosis in the SMNWR population and, ultimately, impact regional persistence in the future.