Comparative influence of isolation, landscape, and wetland characteristics on egg-mass abundance of two pool-breeding amphibian species


The distribution and abundance of species are shaped by local and landscape processes, but the dominant processes may differ with scale and increasing human disturbance. We investigated population responses of two pool-breeding amphibian species to differences in local and landscape characteristics in suburbanizing, southeastern New Hampshire, USA. In 2003 and 2004, we sampled 49 vernal pools for spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) and wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) egg masses. Using egg masses as a proxy for breeding-female population size, we examined the relative influence of five land-use and three isolation variables at two scales (300 and 1000 m) and five wetland variables on egg-mass abundance. For both species, road density at the landscape scale (1000 m) and hydroperiod most strongly predicted egg-mass abundance, with abundance decreasing as roads became denser and hydroperiods shortened. Wetland isolation was also an important predictor, with abundance greatest at more isolated pools, suggesting that both species concentrate at isolated pools when alternative breeding sites are scarce. Surprisingly, no 300-m parameters were strongly associated with salamander egg-mass abundance, whereas several landscape parameters were. In suburbanizing areas, it is at least as important to consider landscape-scale road density as to consider hydroperiod when designing conservation plans for these species. Furthermore, both isolated and clustered pools provide these species important habitat and may require protection. Finally, the conceptual framework for spotted-salamander management must be expanded so that spatial configuration at the landscape scale becomes a regular, integrated component of conservation planning for this species.

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Landscape Ecology


Springer Verlag

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