Characterizing the Width of Amphibian Movements During Postbreeding Migration


Habitat linkages can help maintain connectivity of animal populations in developed landscapes. However, the lack of empirical data on the width of lateral movements (i.e., the zigzagging of individuals as they move from one point to point another) makes determining the width of such linkages challenging. We used radiotracking data from wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) in a managed forest in Maine (U.S.A.) to characterize movement patterns of populations and thus inform planning for the width of wildlife corridors. For each individual, we calculated the polar coordinates of all locations, estimated the vector sum of the polar coordinates, and measured the distance from each location to the vector sum. By fitting a Gaussian distribution over a histogram of these distances, we created a population-level probability density function and estimated the 50th and 95th percentiles to determine the width of lateral movement as individuals progressed from the pond to upland habitat. For spotted salamanders 50% of lateral movements were ≤13 m wide and 95% of movements were ≤39 m wide. For wood frogs, 50% of lateral movements were ≤17 m wide and 95% of movements were ≤ 51 m wide. For both species, those individuals that traveled the farthest from the pond also displayed the greatest lateral movement. Our results serve as a foundation for spatially explicit conservation planning for pond-breeding amphibians in areas undergoing development. Our technique can also be applied to movement data from other taxa to aid in designing habitat linkages.

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Conservation Biology



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© 2014 Society for Conservation Biology