ARMI » Topics » Species and their Ecology

Species and their Ecology

Mark Roth
M. Roth (ARMI) installing an acoustic recorder and water-level and water-temperature loggers at an amphibian breeding site in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway in WI. Photo by: P. Boma.
» Phylum: Chordata
» Class: Amphibia
» Order: Anura (formerly Salientia): Frogs and toads
» Order: Caudata (formerly Urodela): Salamanders
» Order: Gymnophiona: Caecelians

The U.S. is home to approximately 287 of the world's estimated 6,000 amphibian species. The number of known species changes periodically as new species are discovered and new genetic techniques (e.g. molecular genetics) allow scientists to distinguish among cryptic species.

Brad Glorioso
B. Glorioso (ARMI) with American bullfrog in Atchafalaya Basin, LA conducting amphibian surveys. Photo by: L. Elston.

Amphibian Taxonomy

» Scientific and standard names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. (Crother, B.I. (chair). 2008. Publisher: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles)

» Amphibian species of the world 5.4, an online reference. (Frost, D. 2010. Publisher: American Museum of Natural History)

» Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians, turtles, reptiles and crocodillians. (Collins, J.T., and T.W. Taggart. 2009. Publisher: Center for North American Herpetology)

ARMI conducts research on the natural history of species; writing reports and describing the ecology of America's amphibians. ARMI also collaborates with federal and state partners to design, implement, and evaluate management actions that benefit T&E and other imperiled amphibian species.

Federal and State Partners: Information about the status, management, and conservation of amphibians is found throughout the ARMI web site [e.g. Products Database and Topics Sections]. Please consult the "National Amphibian Atlas" to identify the approximate range of the species of interest.


National Amphibian Atlas.

ARMI Papers & Reports on Species and their Ecology

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Kelsey Ruehling, USGS  
This is an ARMI Product. Monitoring Protocol Development and Assessment for Narrowly Endemic Toads in Nevada, 2018
Authors: Halstead BJ, Kleeman PM, Duarte A, Rose JP, Urquhart K, Mellison C, Guadalupe K, Cota M, Killion A, Ruehling K, Van Horne R | Date: 2019-06-18 | Outlet: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1067 | Format: .PDF
Several species and subspecies of toads are endemic to small spring systems in the Great Basin, and their restricted ranges and habitat extent makes them vulnerable to environmental perturbations. Very little is known about several of these toad populations, so a group of stakeholders including the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Department Of Wildlife, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Forest Service, and Oregon State University met to discuss information needs on these populations and to develop a monitoring protocol that would detect population changes over time. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey implemented the proposed survey protocol, a multi-state occupancy design, for three sites: Dixie Valley , Railroad Valley, and Hot Creek, to evaluate its ease of implementation and effectiveness. We found that the multi-state occupancy protocol worked well in the Dixie Valley and, with some refinement, would likely work well in the Railroad Valley. We suggest that capture-mark-recapture of adults might be a more effective approach at Hot Creek. For most life stages of most populations, detection probabilities were positively related to survey duration up to 20 minutes, and the best time of day to conduct surveys varied by life stage and population. We make population-specific suggestions for the number of surveys and their timing and duration. Annual surveys using the suggested survey protocols will likely allow estimation of trends in the proportion of area of each population existing in different population states (occupied, occupied with evidence of reproduction, and unoccupied) and in most cases can be readily implemented with minimal training or handling of toads.

E Muths  
This is an ARMI Product. Integrating amphibian movement studies across scales better informs conservation decisions
Authors: Bailey LL, Muths E | Date: 2019-07 | Outlet: Biological Conservation | Format: .PDF
Numerous papers have highlighted the need to integrate amphibian research and conservation across multiple scales. Despite this, most amphibian movement studies focus on a single level of organization (e.g., local population) and a single life stage (e.g., adults) and many suggest potential conservation actions or imply that the information is useful to conservation, yet these presumptions are rarely clarified or tested. Movement studies to date provide little information to guide conservation decisions directly because they fail to integrate movement across scales with individual or population parameters (i.e., fitness metrics); this is exacerbated by a general failure to set movement studies in a probabilistic context. An integrative approach allows prediction of population or metapopulation responses to environmental changes and different management actions, thus directly informing conservation decisions and ‘moving the needle’ towards an informed application of conservation actions. To support this perspective we: 1) revisit reviews of amphibian movement to illustrate the focus on single scales and to underscore the importance of movement – at all scales – to conservation; 2) make the case that movement, breeding, and other demographic probabilities are intertwined and studies executed at different temporal and spatial scales can aid in understanding species’ responses to varying environmental and/or management conditions; 3) identify limitations of existing movement-related research to predict conservation action outcomes and inform decision-making; and 4) highlight under-utilized quantitative approaches that facilitate research that either connects movement to fitness metrics (individual-level studies) or estimates population and metapopulation vital rates in addition to, or associated with, movement probabilities.

This is an ARMI Product. A three-pipe problem: dealing with complexity to halt amphibian declines
Authors: Converse S, Grant EHC | Outlet: Biological Conservation
Natural resource managers are increasingly faced with threats to managed ecosystems that are largely outside of their control. Examples include land development, climate change, invasive species, and emerging infectious diseases. All of these are characterized by large uncertainties in timing, magnitude, and effects on species. In many cases, the conservation of species will only be possible through concerted action on the limited elements of the system that managers can control. However, before an action is taken, a manager must decide how to act, which is ? if done well ? not easy. In addition to dealing with uncertainty, managers must balance multiple potentially competing objectives, often in cases when the management actions available to them are limited. Guidance in making these types of challenging decisions can be found in the practice known as decision analysis. We demonstrate how using a decision-analytic approach to frame decisions can help identify and address impediments to improved conservation decision making. We demonstrate the application of decision analysis to two high-elevation amphibian species. An inadequate focus on the decision-making process, and an assumption that scientific information is adequate to solve conservation problems, must be overcome to advance the conservation of amphibians and other highly threatened taxa.