Papers & Reports Survival estimates for the invasive American Bullfrog
Click to copy
Authors: Howell PE, Muths E, Sigafus BH, Hossack BR | 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
Click to copy
Authors: Sall I, Jarchow CJ, Sigafus BH, Eby LA, Forzley MJ, Hossack BH | 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: 0.06 – 1.79 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 = 0.70 – 0.92; 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 Species-specific responses to wetland mitigation among amphibians in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Click to copy
Authors: Swartz LK, Lowe WH, Muths E, Hossack BR | Date: 2020 | Outlet: Restoration Ecology 28:206-214
Habitat loss and degradation are leading causes of biodiversity declines, therefore assessing the capacity of created mitigation wetlands to replace habitat for wildlife has become a management priority. We used single season occupancy models to compare occurrence of larvae of four species of pond-breeding amphibians in wetlands created for mitigation, wetlands impacted by road construction, and unimpacted reference wetlands along a highway corridor in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, U.S.A. Created wetlands were shallow and had less aquatic vegetation and surface area than impacted and reference wetlands. Occupancy of barred tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) and boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata) larvae was similar across wetland types, whereas boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas) occurred more often in created wetlands than reference and impacted wetlands. However, the majority of created wetlands (> 80%) dried partially or completely before amphibian metamorphosis occurred in both years of our study, resulting in heavy mortality of larvae and, we suspect, little to no recruitment. Columbia spotted frogs (Rana luteiventris), which require emergent vegetation that is not common in newly-created wetlands, occurred commonly in impacted and reference wetlands but were found in only one created wetland. Our results show that shallow created wetlands with little aquatic vegetation may be attractive breeding areas for some amphibians, but may result in high mortality and little recruitment if they fail to hold water for the entire larval period.
Papers & Reports Floodplains provide important amphibian habitat despite multiple ecological threats
Click to copy
Authors: Holgerson M, Duarte A, Hayes M, Adams M, Tyson J, Douville K, Strecker A | Date: 2019-09-03 | Outlet: Ecosphere | Format: .PDF
Floodplain ponds and wetlands are productive and biodiverse ecosystems, yet they face multiple threats including altered hydrology, land use change, and non-native species. Protecting and restoring important floodplain ecosystems requires understanding how organisms use these habitats and respond to altered environmental conditions. We developed Bayesian models to evaluate occupancy of six amphibian species across 103 off-channel aquatic habitats in the Chehalis River floodplain, Washington State, USA. The basin has been altered by changes in land use, reduced river-wetland connections, and the establishment of non-native American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana = Lithobates catesbeianus) and centrarchid fishes, all of which we hypothesized could influence native amphibian occupancy. Despite potential threats, the floodplain habitats had relatively high rates of native amphibian occupancy, particularly when compared to studies from non-floodplain habitats within the species’ native ranges. The biggest challenge for native amphibians appears to be non-native centrarchid fishes, which strongly reduced occupancy of two native amphibians: the northern red-legged frog (Rana aurora) and the northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile). Emergent vegetative cover increased occupancy probability for all five native amphibian species, indicating that plant-management may offer a strategy to counter the negative effect of centrarchids by providing refuge from predation. We found that temporary and permanent hydroperiod sites supported different species, hence both should be conserved on the landscape. Lastly, human-created and natural ponds had similar amphibian occupancy patterns, suggesting that pond construction offers a viable strategy for adding habitats to the floodplain landscape. Overall, floodplain ponds and wetlands provide important amphibian habitat, and we offer management strategies that will bolster amphibian occupancy in an altered floodplain landscape.
Papers & Reports TESTING THEORETICAL METAPOPULATION CONDITIONS WITH GENOTYPIC DATA FROM BOREAL CHORUS FROGS
Click to copy
Author: Billerman SM | Date: 2019-09 | Outlet: Canadian Journal of Zoology | Format: .PDF
The metapopulation concept has far reaching implications in ecology and conservation biology. Hanski’s criteria operationally define metapopulations, yet testing them is hindered by logistical and financial constraints inherent to the collection of long-term demographic data. Hence, ecologists and conservationists often assume metapopulation existence for dispersal-limited species that occupy patchy habitats. To advance understanding of metapopulation theory and improve conservation of metapopulations, we used population and landscape genetic tools to develop a methodological framework for evaluating Hanski’s criteria. We used genotypic data (11 microsatellite loci) from a purported metapopulation of boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata; Agassiz 1850) in Colorado, USA to test Hanski’s four criteria. We found support for each criterion: (1) significant genetic differentiation between wetlands, suggesting distinct breeding populations (2) wetlands had small effective population sizes and recent bottlenecks, suggesting populations do not experience long-term persistence, (3) population graphs provided evidence of gene flow between patches, indicating potential for recolonization, and (4) multiscale bottleneck analyses suggest asynchrony, indicating that simultaneous extinction of all populations was unlikely. Our methodological framework provides a logistically and financially feasible alternative to long-term demographic data for identifying amphibian metapopulations.
Papers & Reports Using Full and Partial Unmixing Algorithms to Estimate the Inundation Extent of Small, Isolated Stock Ponds in an Arid Landscape
Click to copy
Authors: Jarchow CJ, Sigafus BH, Muths E, Hossack BR | 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 Seeking shelter from the storm: Conservation and management of imperiled species in a changing climate.
Click to copy
Authors: Walls SC, Barichivich WJ, Chandler J, Meade AM, Milinichik M, O'Donnell KM, Owens ME, Peacock T, Reinman J, Wetsch OE | Date: 2019-05-30 | Outlet: Ecology and Evolution 9(12): 7122-7133. | Format: URL
Climate change is anticipated to exacerbate the extinction risk of species whose persistence is already compromised by habitat loss, invasive species, disease, and other stressors. In coastal areas of the southeastern United States, many imperiled vertebrates are vulnerable to hurricanes, which climate models predict to become more severe in the 21st century. Despite this escalating threat, explicit adaptation strategies that address hurricane threats, in particular, and climate change more generally, are largely underrepresented in recovery planning and implementation. Our purpose herein is to provide a basis for stronger emphasis on strategic planning for imperiled species facing the increasing threat of catastrophic hurricanes. Our reasoning comes from observations of short-term environmental and biological impacts of Hurricane Michael, which impacted the Gulf Coast of the southeastern USA in October 2018. During this storm, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, located along the northern Gulf of Mexico?s coast in the panhandle region of Florida, experienced storm surge that was 2.3 to 3.3 m above sea level. Storm surge pushed sea water into some ephemeral freshwater ponds used for breeding by the federally-threatened Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum). After the storm, specific conductance across all ponds varied from 80 to 23,100 ?S/cm,compared to 75 to 445 uS/cm in Spring 2018. For those overwashed wetlands that were measured in both Spring and Fall 2018, post-hurricane conductance observations averaged nearly 100 times greater than in the previous Spring, setting the stage for varying population responses across this coastal landscape. Importantly, we found live individual flatwoods salamanders at both overwashed and non-overwashed sites, although we cannot yet assess the demographic consequences of this storm. We outline actions that could be incorporated into climate adaptation strategies and recovery planning for imperiled species, like A. cingulatum, that are associated with freshwater coastal wetlands in hurricane-prone regions.
Papers & Reports Drought-mediated extinction of an arid-land amphibian: insights from a spatially explicit dynamic occupancy model
Click to copy
Authors: Zylstra ER, Swann DE, Hossack BR, Muths E, Steidl RJ | 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 Seasonal median daily water depths for study wetlands in the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, the North Temperate Lakes Long-term Research area, and the Upper Mississippi River study area from 2008-2012
Click to copy
Authors: Sadinski W, Roth M | Date: 2018-09-06 | Outlet: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7CR5SBH.
To relate water levels in our study wetlands to temperature, precipitation, wetland water depth, and amphibian calling activity, we installed one pressure logger in the deepest spot we could find in each wetland. Soon after thawing conditions allowed, we drove a plastic pipe (anchor pipe) into the sediments at the deepest location and secured another pipe to it that contained one pressure logger (Global Water Model 14 and 15 [College Station, TX, USA] or Onset Computer Corporation Model U20-001-04 [Bourne, MA, USA]) suspended approximately 2.5 cm above the sediments. We installed additional individual pressure loggers in the upper part of the logger pipes (in air) at select locations to measure barometric pressure for calibrating the submerged loggers’ readings. We measured pressure once per hour and used software supplied by the logger manufacturers to upload and convert data to depth at the end of each season.