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Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative

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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.

Resources

National Amphibian Atlas.

ARMI Products on Species and their Ecology

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USGS Point Reyes  
This is an ARMI Product. Population Trends, Survival, and Sampling Methodologies for a Population of Rana draytonii
Authors: Fellers GM, Kleeman PM, Miller DAW, Halstead BJ | Date: 2017-11-09 | Outlet: Journal of Herpetology 51:567-573 | Format: URL
Estimating population trends provides valuable information for resource managers, but monitoring programs face trade-offs between the quality and quantity of information gained and the number of sites surveyed. We compared the effectiveness of monitoring techniques for estimating population trends of Rana draytonii at Point Reyes National Seashore, California, USA, over a 13-year period. Our primary goals were 1) to estimate trends for a focal pond at Point Reyes National Seashore, and 2) to evaluate whether egg mass counts could reliably estimate an index of abundance relative to more intensive capture-mark-recapture methods. Capture-mark-recapture surveys of males indicated a stable population from 2005 through 2009, despite low annual apparent survival (26.3%). Egg mass counts from 2000 through 2012 indicated that despite some large fluctuations, the breeding female population was generally stable or increasing, with annual abundance varying between 26 and 130 individuals. Minor modifications to egg mass counts, such as marking egg masses, can allow estimation of egg mass detection probabilities necessary to convert counts to abundance estimates, even when closure of egg mass abundance cannot be assumed within a breeding season. High egg mass detection probabilities (mean per-survey detection probability = 0.98 [0.89-0.99]) indicate that egg mass surveys can be an efficient and reliable method for monitoring population trends of federally threatened R. draytonii. Combining egg mass surveys to estimate trends at many sites with capture-mark-recapture methods to evaluate factors affecting adult survival at focal populations is likely a profitable path forward to enhance understanding and conservation of R. draytonii.

This is an ARMI Product. Declines revisited: long-term recovery and spatial population dynamics of tailed frog larvae after wildfire
Authors: Hossack BR, Honeycutt RK | Outlet: Biological Conservation
Drought has fueled an increased frequency and severity of large wildfires in many ecosystems. Despite an increase in research on wildfire effects on vertebrates, the vast majority of it has focused on short-term (<5 yrs) effects and there is still little information on the time scale of population recovery for species that decline in abundance after fire. In 2003, a large wildfire in Montana (USA) burned the watersheds of four of eight streams that we sampled for larval Rocky Mountain tailed frogs (Ascaphus montanus) in 2001. Surveys during 2004?2005 revealed reduced abundance of larvae in burned streams relative to unburned streams, with greater declines associated with increased fire extent. Rocky Mountain tailed frogs have low vagility and have several unusual life-history traits that could slow population recovery, including an extended larval period (4 yrs), delayed sexual maturity (6?8 yrs), and low fecundity (<50 eggs/yr). To determine if abundance remained depressed since the 2003 wildfire, we repeated surveys during 2014?2015 and found relative abundance of larvae in burned and unburned streams had nearly converged to pre-fire conditions within two generations. The negative effects of burn extent on larval abundance weakened >58% within 12 yrs after the fire. We also found moderate synchrony among populations in unburned streams and negative spatial autocorrelation among populations in burned streams. We suspect negative spatial autocorrelation among spatially-clustered burned streams reflected increased post-fire patchiness in resources and different rates of local recovery. Our results add to a growing body of work that suggests populations in intact ecosystems tend to be resilient to habitat changes caused by wildfire. Our results also provide important insights into recovery times of populations that have been negatively affected by severe wildfire.

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N. Dotson  
This is an ARMI Product. Occurrence of Amphibians in Northern California Coastal Dune Drainages
Authors: Halstead BJ, Kleeman PM | Date: 2017-07 | Outlet: Northwestern Naturalist 98(2):91-100 | Format: URL
Many coastal dune ecosystems have been degraded by non-native dune vegetation, but these systems might still provide valuable habitat for some taxa, including amphibians. Because restoration of degraded dune systems is occurring and likely to continue, we examined the occurrence of amphibians in drainages associated with a coastal dune ecosystem degraded by invasive plants (European Beachgrass, Ammophila arenaria, and Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis). We found that occupancy of 3 amphibian species (California Red-legged Frog, Rana draytonii; Sierran Treefrog, Hyliola sierra; and Rough-skinned Newt, Taricha granulosa) among 21 coastal dune drainages was high, with most coastal dune drainages occupied by all 3 species. Furthermore, reproduction of Sierran Treefrogs and California Red-legged Frogs was estimated to occur in approximately 1/2 and 1/3; of the drainages, respectively. The probability of occurrence of Rough-skinned Newts and pre-metamorphic life stages of both anurans decreased during the study, perhaps because of ongoing drought in California or precipitation-induced changes in phenology during the final year of the study. Maintaining structural cover and moist features during dune restoration will likely benefit native amphibian populations inhabiting coastal dune ecosystems.


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