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Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative

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Vernal pool
Larissa Bailey (Colorado State), USGS, FWS, and SCC volunteers building vernal pools at Patuxent NWR, to adaptively manage for climate change. Photo by: A. Green.

Only a few years ago, amphibians were rarely considered in the development and implementation of management plans. But now, it’s not uncommon to see amphibian populations as the primary targets of management activities.

ARMI scientists conduct research on the impacts of various traditional management actions on amphibians, and have worked with partners to develop and test novel management options specifically to benefit amphibians.

Important decisions are made every day on management and policy that affect multiple wildlife species. ARMI works with its partners in Federal and State agencies to develop processes for structuring their natural resource decisions to achieve their conservation objectives related to amphibians.

ARMI Products on Management

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Robert Fisher, USGS  
This is an ARMI Product. Setting priorities for private land conservation in fire-prone landscapes: Are fire risk reduction and biodiversity conservation competing or compatible objectives?
Authors: Syphard AD, Butsic V, Bar-Massada A, Keeley JE, Tracey JA, Fisher RN | Date: 2016 | Outlet: Ecology and Society 21(3):2. | Format: .PDF
Although wildfire plays an important role in maintaining biodiversity in many ecosystems, fire management to protect human assets is often carried out by different agencies than those tasked for conserving biodiversity. In fact, fire risk reduction and biodiversity conservation are often viewed as competing objectives. Here we explored the role of management through private land conservation and asked whether we could identify private land acquisition strategies that fulfill the mutual objectives of biodiversity conservation and fire risk reduction, or whether the maximization of one objective comes at a detriment to the other. Using a fixed budget and number of homes slated for development, we simulated 20 years of housing growth under alternative conservation selection
strategies, and then projected the mean risk of fires destroying structures and the area and configuration of important habitat types in San Diego County, California, USA. We found clear differences in both fire risk projections and biodiversity impacts based on the way conservation lands are prioritized for selection, but these differences were split between two distinct groupings. If no conservation lands were purchased, or if purchases were prioritized based on cost or likelihood of development, both the projected fire risk and biodiversity impacts were much higher than if conservation lands were purchased in areas with high fire hazard or high species richness. Thus, conserving land focused on either of the two objectives resulted in nearly equivalent mutual benefits for both. These benefits not only resulted from preventing development in sensitive areas, but they were also due to the different housing patterns and arrangements that occurred as development was displaced from those areas. Although biodiversity conflicts may still arise using other fire management strategies, this study shows that mutual objectives can be attained through land-use planning in this region. These results likely generalize to any place where high species richness overlaps with hazardous wildland vegetation.

This is an ARMI Product. Mapping habitat for multiple species in the Desert Southwest.
Authors: Inman RD, Nussear KE, Esque TC, Vandergast AG, Hathaway SA, Wood DA, Barr KR, Fisher RN | Date: 2014 | Outlet: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1134, pp. 92 | Format: .PDF
Many utility scale renewable energy projects are currently proposed across the Mojave Ecoregion. Agencies that manage biological resources throughout this region need to understand the potential impacts of these renewable energy projects and their associated infrastructure (for example, transmission corridors, substations, access roads, etc.) on species movement, genetic exchange among
populations, and species’ abilities to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Understanding these
factors will help managers select appropriate project sites and possibly mitigate for anticipated effects of management activities. We used species distribution models to map habitat for 15 species across the Mojave Ecoregion to aid regional land-use management planning. Models were developed using a common 1 Ă— 1 kilometer resolution with maximum entropy and generalized additive models. Occurrence data were compiled from multiple sources, including VertNet (, HerpNET (, and MaNIS (, as well as from internal U.S. Geological Survey databases and other biologists. Background data included 20 environmental covariates representing terrain, vegetation, and climate covariates. This report summarizes these environmental covariates and species distribution models used to predict habitat for the 15 species across the Mojave Ecoregion.

Robert Fisher, USGS  
This is an ARMI Product. Conservation and recovery of the mountain yellow-legged frog in southern California, USA.
Authors: Backlin AR, Gallegos EA, Fisher RN | Date: 2012 | Outlet: Global Re-introduction perspectives:2011, more case studies from around the globe, Soorae, P.S., ed. Re-introduction specialist Group and Abu Dhabi, UAE: Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi. Gland, Switzerland pp. 77-80 | Format: .PDF

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