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247 record(s) found.

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 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 Trade-offs in initial and long-term handling efficiency of PIT-tag and photographic identification methods
Authors: Lindsey S Roberts; Bennett Hardy; Erin L Muths; Abigail Feuka; Larissa L Bailey
Date: 2021-07 | Outlet: Ecological Indicators
Individual identification is required for long-term investigations that examine population-level changes in survival or abundance, and mechanisms associated with these changes in wild populations. Such identification generally requires the application of a unique mark, or the documentation of characteristics distinctive to each individual animal. To minimize impacts to often declining populations, scientific and ethical concerns encourage marking strategies that minimize handling time (i.e., stress) for captured individuals. We examined the relative efficacy of passive integrated transponder (PIT)-tagging and photo-identification to identify individual Boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) in field and indoor settings. We evaluated whether initial handling time was influenced by identification method (PIT-tag or photo-identification) or environment (field or indoor) and assessed the applicability of each method in long-term monitoring programs. Initial handling time was higher for PIT-tagging than photo-identification and higher in the field than in an indoor environment; however, handling time for previously PIT-tagged individuals was greatly reduced such that photo-identification led to > 5.5 times more handling time than PIT-tagging over the course of a toad's lifetime. Investigators must determine the trade-off between initial and subsequent handling times to minimize the expected cumulative handling time for an individual over the course of a study. Cumulative handling time is a function of the study design and the species’ survival and detection probabilities. We developed a Shiny Application to allow investigators to determine the identification method that minimizes handling time for their own study system.
Papers & Reports An updated assessment of status and trend for Cascades Frog in Oregon
Authors: Adam Duarte; Christopher A Pearl; Brome McCreary; Jennifer C Rowe; Michael J Adams
Date: 2021-08-31 | Outlet: Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Conservation efforts need reliable information concerning the status of a species and their trends to help identify which species are in most need of assistance. We completed a comparative evaluation of the occurrence of breeding for Cascades Frog (Rana cascadae), an amphibian that is being considered for federal protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Specifically, in 2018–2019 we resurveyed 67 sites that were surveyed approximately 15 y prior and fit occupancy models to quantify the distribution of R. cascadae breeding in the Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Furthermore, we conducted a simulation exercise to assess the power of sampling designs to detect declines in R. cascadae breeding at these sites. Our analysis of field data combined with our simulation results suggests that if there was a decline in the proportion of sites used for R. cascadae breeding in Oregon, it was likely a < 20% decline across our study period. Our results confirm that while R. cascadae detection probabilities are high, methods that allow the sampling process to be explicitly modeled are necessary to reliably track the status of the species. This study demonstrates the usefulness of investing in baseline information and data quality standards to increase capacity to make similar comparisons for other species in a timeframe that meet the needs of land managers and policy makers.
Papers & Reports Amphibian population responses to mitigation: relative importance of wetland age and design
Authors: Emily B Oja; L K Swartz; Erin L Muths; Blake R Hossack
Date: 2021 | Outlet: Ecological Indicators
Wetland creation is a common practice to mitigate for the loss of natural wetlands. However, there is still uncertainty about how effectively created wetlands replace habitat provided by natural wetlands. This uncertainty is due in part because post-construction monitoring of biological communities, and vertebrates especially, is rare and typically short-term (< 5 years). We estimated occupancy of 4 amphibian species in 8 created mitigation wetlands, 7 impacted wetlands, and 7 reference wetlands in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in Wyoming, USA. Mitigation wetlands were created to replace wetland habitat that was lost during road construction and ranged in age from 1 to 10 years when sampled. Impacted wetlands were natural wetlands partially filled by road construction and were adjacent to a highway. We sampled for amphibian larvae during 6 summers from 2013 to 2020 and used multi-species occupancy models that estimated detection and occupancy of each of 4 amphibian species to determine how amphibian responses changed over time, especially in mitigation wetlands. Occupancy did not differ between impacted and reference wetlands for any of the 4 amphibian species. Western Toads (Anaxyrus boreas) were most common (although briefly) in created wetlands, and occupancy of Columbia Spotted Frogs (Rana luteiventris), Western Tiger Salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium), and Boreal Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris maculata) was lower in created wetlands than in impacted or reference wetlands. Wetland area was positively associated with occupancy for all 4 species and wetland vegetation cover was positively associated with Boreal Chorus Frog and Columbia Spotted Frog occupancy; these results emphasize the importance of design characteristics when planning mitigation wetlands. The link between wetland age and occupancy was complex and included threshold and quadratic relationships for three of the four species, but only Boreal Chorus Frog occupancy was still increasing slowly at the end of our study. Our results indicate created wetlands did not attain the suitability of impacted and natural wetlands for local amphibians, even several years after construction. The complicated relationships between wetland age and species-specific occupancy illustrate the importance of long-term monitoring in describing population responses to the construction of wetlands as mitigation for wetland loss.
Papers & Reports Evaluating Corticosterone as a Biomarker for Amphibians Exposed to Increased Salinity and Ambient Corticosterone
Authors: B J Tornabene; Blake R Hossack; E J Crespi; Creagh W Breuner
Date: 2021-07 | Outlet: Conservation Physiolology 9(1): coab049
Salinization is harmful to amphibians and waterborne corticosterone could be a useful biomarker. Salinity was only associated with waterborne corticosterone for one of three amphibian species. Ambient corticosterone likely confounded associations and possibly influenced amphibian physiology. We provide suggestions to improve reliability of waterborne corticosterone as a biomarker of salt stress.
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; Mason J Ryan; I M Latella; J T Giermakowski; Erin L 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 https://0.58 (SE = 0.09) for historical sites and https://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 https://0.23 to https://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 Demography of the Oregon spotted frog along a hydrologically modified river
Authors: Jennifer C Rowe; Adam Duarte; Christopher A Pearl; Brome McCreary; P K Haggerty; John W Jones; Michael J Adams
Date: 2021-06-21 | Outlet: Ecosphere
Altered flow regimes can contribute to dissociation between life history strategies and environmental conditions, leading to reduced persistence reported for many wildlife populations inhabiting regulated rivers. The Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa) is a threatened species occurring in floodplains, ponds, and wetlands in the Pacific Northwest with a core range in Oregon, USA. All life stages of R. pretiosa are reliant on aquatic habitats, and inundation patterns across the phenological timeline can have implications for population success. We conducted capture-mark-recapture (CMR) sampling of adult and subadult R. pretiosa at three sites along the Deschutes River downstream from two dams that regulate flows. We related the seasonal extent of inundated habitat at each site to monthly survival probabilities using a robust design CMR model. We also developed matrix projection models to simulate population dynamics into the future under current river flows. Monthly survival was strongly associated with the extent and variability of inundated habitat, suggesting some within-season fluctuations at higher water levels could be beneficial. Seasonal survival was lowest in the winter for all three sites, owing to limited water availability and the greater number of months within this season relative to other seasons. Population growth for the two river-connected sites was most strongly linked to adult survival, whereas population growth at the river-disconnected site was most strongly tied to survival in juvenile stages. This research identifies population effects of seasonally limited water and highlights conservation potential of enhancing survival of particularly influential life stages.
Papers & Reports Abundance of Gulf Coast Waterdogs (Necturus beyeri) along Bayou Lacombe, Saint Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Authors: Brad M Glorioso; J Hardin Waddle; L J Muse; S T Godfrey
Date: 2021-06-11 | Outlet: Journal of Herpetology
Few ecological studies have been conducted on Gulf Coast Waterdogs (Necturus beyeri), and published studies have focused on relatively small stream sections of 125 m to https://1.75 km. In 2015, we sampled Gulf Coast Waterdogs at 25 locations along a 13.4-km stretch of Bayou Lacombe (Saint Tammany Parish, Louisiana, USA) to better understand factors that may influence the distribution of Gulf Coast Waterdogs within streams. We checked 250 unbaited traps once per week for three weeks and captured 170 Gulf Coast Waterdogs at 18 of the 25 sites. We used hierarchical models of abundance to estimate abundance at each site as a function of site covariates including pH, turbidity, and distance from headwaters. The abundance of Gulf Coast Waterdogs within Bayou Lacombe was highest toward the center of the segment of stream we sampled, but we found no evidence that pH or turbidity affected abundance within our study area. Site level abundance estimates of Gulf Coast Waterdogs ranged from 0 to 82, and we estimated that there were 767 (95% Bayesian credible interval [CRI]: 266–983) Gulf Coast Waterdogs summed across all 25 sampling sites. We derived an estimate of 6,321 (95% CRI: 2,139–15,922) Gulf Coast Waterdogs for the entire 13.4 km section of Bayou Lacombe, which includes our 25 sites and the adjoining stream reaches between our sites. Our results suggest that Gulf Coast Waterdogs may be uncommon or absent in the headwaters, possibly because of shallow water and swift currents with little preferred habitats, and prefer the middle stream reaches with adequate depth and an abundance of preferred microhabitats.
Papers & Reports Enigmatic Near-Extinction in a Boreal Toad Metapopulation in Northwestern Montana
Authors: Rebecca M McCaffery; Robin E Russell; Blake R Hossack
Outlet: Journal of Wildlife Management
North America’s protected lands harbor significant biodiversity and provide habitats where species threatened by a variety of stressors in other environments can thrive. Yet disease, climate change, and other threats are not limited by land management boundaries and can interact with conditions within protected landscapes to affect sensitive populations. We examined the population dynamics of a boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas) metapopulation at a wildlife refuge in northwestern Montana over a 16-year period (2003-2018). We used robust design capture-recapture models to estimate male population size, recruitment, and apparent survival over time and in relation to the amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. We estimated female population size in years with sufficient captures. Finally, we examined trends in male and female toad body size and condition. We found no evidence of an effect of disease or time on male toad survival but detected a strong negative trend in recruitment of new males to the population. Estimates of male and female abundance decreased dramatically over time. Body size of males and females was inversely related to estimated population size, consistent with reduced recruitment to replace adults, but body condition of adult males was only weakly associated with abundance. Together, these results describe the demography of a near-extinction event, and point to dramatic decreases in the recruitment of new individuals to the breeding population as the cause of this decline. We surmise that processes related to the restoration of historical hydrology within the refuge adversely affected amphibian breeding habitat, and that these changes interacted with disease, life history, and other factors to restrict the recruitment of new individuals to the breeding population over time. Our results point to challenges in understanding and predicting drivers of population change and highlight that current metrics for assessing population status can have limited predictive ability.
Papers & Reports Density dependence and adult survival drive dynamics in two high elevation amphibian populations
Authors: Amanda M Kissel; S Tenan; Erin L Muths
Date: 2020-12-12 | Outlet: Diversity 2020, 12, 478; doi:10.3390/d12120478
Amphibian conservation has progressed from the identification of declines to mitigation, but efforts are hampered by the lack of nuanced information about the effects of environmental characteristics and stressors on mechanistic processes of population regulation. Challenges include a paucity of long-term data and scant information about the relative roles of extrinsic (e.g., weather) and intrinsic (e.g., density dependence) factors. We used a Bayesian formulation of an open population capture-recapture model and >30 years of data to examine intrinsic and extrinsic factors regulating two adult boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata) populations. We modelled population growth rate and apparent survival directly, assessed their temporal variability, and derived estimates of recruitment. Populations were relatively stable (geometric mean population growth rate >1), and regulated by negative density dependence (i.e., higher population sizes reduced population growth rate). In the smaller population, density dependence also acted on adult survival. In the larger population, higher population growth was associated with warmer autumns. Survival estimates ranged from https://0.30-0.87, per-capita recruitment was <1 in most years, and mean seniority probability was >https://0.50, suggesting adult survival is more important to population growth than recruitment. Our analysis indicates density dependence is a primary driver of population dynamics for P. maculata adults.
Papers & Reports Estimating the survival of unobservable life stages for a declining frog with a complex life-history.
Authors: Jonathan P Rose; Sarah J Kupferberg; Clara A Wheeler; Patrick M Kleeman; Brian J Halstead
Date: 2021-02-15 | Outlet: Ecosphere 12(2):e03381
Demographic models enhance understanding of drivers of population growth and inform conservation efforts to prevent population declines and extinction. For species with complex life histories, however, parameterizing demographic models is challenging because some life stages can be dif?cult to study directly. Integrated population models (IPMs) empower researchers to estimate vital rates for organisms that have cryptic or widely dispersing early life stages by integrating multiple demographic data sources. For a stream-inhabiting frog(Rana boylii) that is declining through much of its range in Oregon and California, USA, we collected egg-mass counts and capture–mark–recapture data on adults from two populations in California to ?t IPMs that estimate adult abundance and the survival rate of both marked and unobserved life stages. Estimates of adult abundance based on long-term monitoring of egg-mass counts showed that study populations ?uctuated greatly inter-annually but were stable at longer timescales (i.e., decades). Adult female survival during 5–6 yr of capture–mark–recapture study periods was nearly equal in each population. Survival rate of R. boylii eggs to the subadult stage is low on average (0.002) but highly variable among years depending on post-oviposition stream ?ow. Population viability analysis showed that survival of adult and subadult life stages has the greatest proportional effect on population growth; the survival of egg and tadpole life stages, however, is more malleable by management interventions. For example, simulations showed head-starting of tadpoles, salvaging stranded egg masses, and limiting aseasonal pulsed ?ows could dramatically reduce the threat of extirpation. This study demonstrates the value of integrating multiple demographic data sources to construct models of population dynamics in species with complex life histories.
Papers & Reports Conservation genomics of the threatened western spadefoot, Spea hammondii, in urbanized southern California
Authors: K M Neal; Robert N Fisher; M J Mitrovich; H B Shaffer
Date: 2020-11-27 | Outlet: Journal of Heredity 2020:613-627
Populations of the western spadefoot (Spea hammondii) in southern California occur in one of the most urbanized and fragmented landscapes on the planet and have lost up to 80% of their native habitat. Orange County is one of the last strongholds for this pond-breeding amphibian in the region, and ongoing restoration efforts targeting S. hammondii have involved habitat protection and the construction of artificial breeding ponds. These efforts have successfully increased breeding activity, but genetic characterization of the populations, including estimates of effective population size and admixture between the gene pools of constructed artificial and natural ponds, has never been undertaken. Using thousands of genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms, we characterized the population structure, genetic diversity, and genetic connectivity of spadefoots in Orange County to guide ongoing and future management efforts. We identified at least 2, and possibly 3 major genetic clusters, with additional substructure within clusters indicating that individual ponds are often genetically distinct. Estimates of landscape resistance suggest that ponds on either side of the Los Angeles Basin were likely interconnected historically, but intense urban development has rendered them essentially isolated, and the resulting risk of interruption to natural metapopulation dynamics appears to be high. Resistance surfaces show that the existing artificial ponds were well-placed and connected to natural populations by low-resistance corridors. Toad samples from all ponds (natural and artificial) returned extremely low estimates of effective population size, possibly due to a bottleneck caused by a recent multi-year drought. Management efforts should focus on maintaining gene flow among natural and artificial ponds by both assisted migration and construction of new ponds to bolster the existing pond network in the region.
Papers & Reports The influence of species life history and distribution characteristics on species responses to habitat fragmentation in an urban landscape
Authors: Staci M Amburgey; David AW Miller; Carlton J Rochester; Katy S Delaney; Seth PD Riley; Cheryl S Brehme; Stacie A Hathaway; Robert N Fisher
Date: 2021-01-20 | Outlet: Journal of Animal Ecology
1. Fragmentation within urbanized environments often leads to a loss of native species diversity; however, variation exists in responses among-species and among-populations within species.
2. We aimed to identify patterns in species biogeography in an urbanized landscape to understand anthropogenic effects on vertebrate communities and identify species that are more sensitive or resilient to landscape change.
3. We investigated patterns in species richness and species responses to fragmentation in southern Californian small vertebrate communities using multispecies occupancy models and determined factors associated with overall commonness and sensitivity to patch size for 45 small vertebrate species both among and within remaining non-developed patches.
4. In general, smaller patches had fewer species, with amphibian species richness being particularly sensitive to patch size effects. Mammals were generally more common, occurring both in a greater proportion of patches and a higher proportion of the sites within occupied patches. Alternatively, amphibians were generally restricted to larger patches but were more ubiquitous within smaller patches when occupied. Species range size was positively correlated with how common a species was across and within patches, even when controlling for only patches that fell within a species’ range. We found sensitivity to patch size was greater for more fecund species and depended on where the patch occurred within a species’ range. While all taxa were more likely to occur in patches in the warmer portions of their ranges, amphibians and mammals were more sensitive to fragmentation in these warmer areas as compared to the rest of their ranges. Similarly, amphibians occurred at a smaller proportion of sites within patches in drier portions of their ranges. Mammals occurred at a higher proportion of sites that were also in drier portions of their range while reptiles did not differ in their sensitivity to patch size by range position.
5. We demonstrate that taxonomy, life history, range size, and range position can predict commonness and sensitivity of species across this highly fragmented yet biodiverse landscape. The impacts of fragmentation on species communities within an urban landscape depend on scale, with differences emerging among and within species and populations.
Papers & Reports Widespread Ranavirus and Perkinsea infections in Cuban Treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) invading New Orleans, USA
Authors: N Galt; Matthew S Atkinson; Brad M Glorioso; J Hardin Waddle; M Litton; Anna E Savage
Date: 2021-04-30 | Outlet: Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Papers & Reports A latent process model approach for improving the utility of indicator species
Authors: Jill Fleming; C Sutherland; S Sterrett; Evan HC Grant
Outlet: Oikos
The state of an ecosystem is governed by dynamic biotic and abiotic processes, which can only be partially observed. Costs associated with measuring each component limit the feasibility of comprehensive assessments of target ecosystems. Instead, indicator species are recommended as a surrogate index. While this is an attractive concept, indicator species have rarely proven to be an effective tool for monitoring ecosystems and informing management decisions. One deficiency in the existing theoretical development of indicator species may be overcome with the incorporation of latent (i.e., unobservable) states. Advancements in quantitative ecological models allow for latent-state models to be tested empirically, facilitating the robust evaluation and practical use of indicator species for ecosystem science and management. Here, we extend the existing conceptual models of indicator species to include a direct relationship between an indicator species, ecosystem change drivers, and latent processes and variables. Our approach includes explicit consideration of important estimation uncertainty and narrows the range of values a latent variable may take by relating it to measurable attribute(s) of an indicator species. We demonstrate the utility of this approach by relating a commonly cited indicator species, the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus), to a typical latent process of interest – ecosystem health.
Papers & Reports Climate’s cascading effects on disease, predation, and hatching success in Anaxyrus canorus, the threatened Yosemite toad
Authors: W J Sadinski; A L Gallant; J Cleaver
Date: 2020-09-01 | Outlet: Global Ecology and Conservation
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed Anaxyrus canorus, the Yosemite toad, as federally threatened in 2014 based upon reported population declines and vulnerability to global-change factors. A. canorus lives only in California’s central Sierra Nevada at medium to sub-alpine elevations. Lands throughout its range are protected from development, but climate and other global-change factors potentially can limit populations. A. canorus reproduces in ultra-shallow wetlands that typically hydrate seasonally via melting of the winter snowpack. Lesser snowpacks in drier years can render wetland water volumes and hydroperiods insufficient to allow for successful breeding and reproduction. Additionally, breeding and embryogenesis occur very soon after wetlands thaw when overnight temperatures can be below freezing. Diseases, such as chytridiomycosis, which recently decimated regional populations of ranid species, also might cause declines of A. canorus populations. However, reported studies focused on whether climate interacts with any pathogens to affect fitness in A. canorus have been scarce. We investigated effects of these factors on A. canorus near Tioga Pass from 1996 to 2001. We found breeding subpopulations were distributed widely but inconsistently among potentially suitable wetlands and frequently consisted of small numbers of adults. We occasionally observed small but not alarming numbers of dead adults at breeding sites. In contrast, embryo mortality often was notably high, with the majority of embryos dead in some egg masses while mortality among coincidental Pseudacris regilla (Pacific treefrog) embryos in deeper water was lower. After sampling and experimentation, we concluded that freezing killed A. canorus embryos, especially near the tops of egg masses, which enabled Saprolegnia diclina (a water mold [Oomycota]) to infect and then spread through egg masses and kill more embryos, often in conjunction with predatory flatworms (Turbellaria spp.). We also concluded exposure to ultraviolet-B radiation did not play a role. Based upon our assessments of daily minimum temperatures recorded around snow-off during years before and after our field study, the freezing potential we observed at field sites during embryogenesis might have been commonplace beyond the years of our field study. However, interactions among snow quantity, the timing of snow-off, and coincidental air temperatures that determine such freezing potential make projections of future conditions highly uncertain, despite overall warming trends. Our results describe important effects from ongoing threats to the fitness and abundance of A. canorus via reduced reproduction success and demonstrate how climate conditions can exacerbate effects from pathogens to threaten the persistence of amphibian populations.
Papers & Reports Time-to-detection occupancy methods: performance and utility for improving efficiency of surveys
Authors: Brian J Halstead; Jonathan P Rose; Patrick M Kleeman
Date: 2020-11-25 | Outlet: Ecological Applications
Occupancy methods propelled the quantitative study of species distributions forward by separating the observation process, or the imperfect detectability of species, from the ecological processes of interest governing species distributions. Occupancy studies come at a cost, however: the collection of additional data to account for nondetections at sites where the species is present. The most common occupancy designs (repeated measures designs) require repeat visits to sites or the use of multiple observers or detection methods. Time-to-detection methods have been identified as a potentially efficient alternative, requiring only one visit to each site by a single observer. A comparison of time-to-detection methods to repeated measures designs for visual encounter surveys would allow researchers to evaluate whether time-to-detection methods might be appropriate for their study system and can inform optimal survey design. We collected time-to-detection data during two different repeated measures design occupancy surveys for four amphibians and compared the performance of time-to-detection methods to the other designs using the location (potential bias) and precision of posterior distributions for occurrence parameters. We further used results of time-to-detection surveys to optimize survey design. Time-to-detection methods performed best for species that are widespread and have high detection probabilities and rates, but performed less well for cryptic species with lower probability of occurrence or whose detection was strongly affected by survey conditions. In all cases single surveys were most efficient in terms of person-hours expended, but under some conditions the survey duration required to achieve high detection probabilities would be prohibitively long for a single survey. Regardless of occupancy survey design, time-to-detection methods provide important information that can be used to optimize surveys, allowing researchers and resource managers to efficiently achieve monitoring and conservation goals. Collecting time-to-detection data while conducting repeated measures occupancy surveys requires only small modifications to field methods but could have large benefits in terms of time spent surveying in the long-term.