Climate Change

Freshwater wetlands provide critical habitat for a diverse array of organisms including many amphibians. Yet, under the continued impacts of water diversions and the newer threats of climate change, these habitats are among the most imperiled ecosystems on Earth. Climate change has the potential to alter many sources of water critical to the habitats amphibians need, especially those associated with breeding and development. Potential changes include: change in timing and availability of water from glacier melt, snow and rain timing and amount; persistence of vernal pools and seasonal wetlands; altered evapotranspiration rates; and reduced stream flows and groundwater recharge rates.

Other ecosystem components likely to change in response to climate change include the timing and frequency of fires, the spread of invasive plants and animals, and microclimates in which the animals live.

Robert Fisher and Stacey Hathaway (ARMI) ground-truthing potential desert-frog breeding sites selected using remote sensing of soil characteristics derived from known breeding site. Photo by: C. Schwalbe.

Climate Change - ARMI Papers & Reports

Data Release Amphibian (chorus frog, wood frog, tiger salamander) surveys in Rocky Mountain National Park (1986-2022)
Authors: Amanda M Kissel; Erin Muths
Date: 2023-01-24 | Outlet: sciencebase
This data release contains information collected during surveys for chorus fogs (Pseudacris maculata), wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and tiger salamanders (Ambystoma mavortium) conducted in Rocky Mountain National Park (1986 – 2022) by the U.S. Geological Survey. Survey methods included visual encounter and aural surveys, and dip netting. Data collected between 1986 and 1994 focused on named water bodies in Rocky Mountain National Park. Data collected between 1995 and 1999 are from focal monitoring sites as well as sporadic surveys of other wetlands. Data collected between 2000-2002 represent repeated surveys conducted between 1986 and 1994 (e.g., park-wide surveys of named water bodies) and additional surveys of unnamed waterbodies. Data collected after 2002 were collected under an occupancy framework. Sites were identified within pre-defined catchments using the National Wetlands Inventory Database to locate potential amphibian breeding habitat (e.g., ponds, ephemeral wetlands). If appropriate sites were encountered in the field and were not indicated on National Wetland Inventory databases (, they were added as incidental sites. Waterbodies were visited and surveyed at least two times during the amphibian active season (May and mid-August). Water bodies were surveyed for all life stages of amphibians.
Papers & Reports Contrasting demographic responses under future climate at multiple life stages for two populations of a montane amphibian
Authors: Amanda M Kissel; Wendy J Palen; Michael J Adams; Justin Garwood
Date: 2024-01-03 | Outlet: Climate Change Ecology
For species with complex life histories, climate change can have contrasting effects for different life stages within locally adapted populations and may result in responses counter to general climate change predictions. Using data from two, 14-year demographic studies for a North American montane amphibian, Cascades frog (Rana cascadae), we quantified how aspects of current climate influenced annual survival of larvae and adult stages and modeled the stochastic population growth rate (?s) of each population for current (1980-2006) and future periods (2080s). Climate drivers of survival for the populations were similar for larvae (i.e. decreases in precipitation lead to pond drying and mortality), but diverged for terrestrial stages where decreases in winter length and summer precipitation had opposite effects. By the 2080s, we predict one population will be in sharp decline (?s = 0.90),while the other population will remain nearly stable (?s = 0.99) in the absence of other stressors, such as mortality due to disease. Our case study demonstrates a result counter to many climate envelope predictions in that stage-specific responses to local climate and hydrology result in a higher extinction risk for the more northern population.
Data Release Data release - Abiotic and biotic factors reduce viability of a high-elevation salamander in its native range
Authors: Evan HC Grant; Graziella V DiRenzo; Adrianne B Brand
Date: 2023-04-11 | Outlet: ScienceBase
Includes data used to estimate population demographic parameters for an exemplary high-elevation amphibian species, the federally endangered Shenandoah salamander (Plethodon shenandoah). These parameters were entered into a Markov projection model which we used to forecast the future population status of the Shenandoah salamander.
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