Drought

Lake Shasta Feb-Oct 2014 comparison.
Lake Shasta Feb-Oct 2014 comparison.

Drought - ARMI Papers & Reports

Papers & Reports Resilience of native amphibian communities following catastrophic drought: evidence from a decade of regional-scale monitoring
Authors: W Moss; T McDevitt-Galles; Erin L Muths; Steven Bobzien; J Purificato; P TJ Johnson
1. The increasing frequency and severity of drought has the potential to exacerbate existing global amphibian declines. However, interactions between drought and coincident stressors, coupled with high interannual variability in amphibian abundances, can mask the extent and underlying mechanisms of drought-induced declines. The application of dynamic occupancy modeling to longitudinal monitoring data estimates the effect of specific variables on population change, providing key insights into potential management strategies for drought resilience.
2. We synthesized a decade (2009 – 2019) of amphibian survey data from multiple monitoring programs across the California Bay Area and used occupancy modeling to estimate the influence of drought, invasive species, and land use on species’ persistence and colonization probabilities. The geographic and temporal scale of our dataset, consisting of 2574 surveys of seven species in 473 ponds, allowed us to quantify regional trends for an entire community of pond-breeding amphibians.
3. An extreme drought from 2012 – 2015 resulted in losses of breeding sites, with 51% of ponds drying in 2014 compared to <10% in non-drought years. Pond drying reduced persistence rates, and nearly every species exhibited reduced occupancy during the drought, with some species (American bullfrogs and California newts) declining by > 25%. Drought reduced occupancy via additional mechanisms beyond habitat loss; for example, lower spring precipitation (an important cue for breeding) was associated with reduced colonization.
4. During drought, native species’ persistence was higher in permanent relative to temporary ponds, even though these sites were also more likely to contain invasive fish and bullfrogs, which generally reduced native amphibian occupancy. Many of these permanent ponds dried during the worst year of drought, leading to extirpations of invasive species that appeared long-lasting. In contrast, native species rebounded quickly with returning rains and showed evidence of full recovery.
5. Synthesis and applications: Despite experiencing one of most severe droughts in a millennium, native species displayed high resilience. Due to longer recovery times by non-native relative to native species, drought presents a valuable management opportunity to remove invaders from key refugia, and we highlight the value of maintaining hydroperiod diversity to promote the persistence of multiple species.
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 The Coyote Mountains’ Desert Snail (Sonorelix harperi carrizoensis), a Lazarus Species with the First Documentation of Live Individuals
Authors: Robert 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.
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