Assessing Habitat Requirements of Pond-Breeding Amphibians in a Highly Urbanized Landscape:Implications for Management

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Urban Ecosystems

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Management of urban aquatic habitats for native wildlife, such as amphibians, is an important contemporary goal for many municipalities. However, our understanding of how local and landscape characteristics of urban aquatic habitat promote or inhibit amphibian occupancy and recruitment is limited. In this study, we examined amphibian community composition and occurrence patterns in ponds, wetlands, and swales of Gresham, Oregon. We collected occurrence data for five native amphibians: northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile), long-toed salamander (A. macrodactylum), Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla), northern red-legged frog (Rana aurora aurora), and rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) as well as one non-native amphibian, the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus). One hundred sites were surveyed from 2007 to 2013. Local and landscape attributes were characterized for each site, and potential drivers of species occupancy were evaluated using a combination of multivariate approaches and generalized linear models. In general, percent impervious surface and distance to nearest forest patch, both associated with urbanization, were negatively correlated with site occupancy for all species. Non-native vegetation was also negatively associated with occupancy of three species (long-toed salamanders, Pacific chorus frogs, and northern red-legged frogs). In contrast, occupancy was positively correlated with pond depth and hydroperiod length for all species. We found evidence of two distinct groups of co-occurring amphibian species driven by habitat depth and hydroperiod. Finally, we report results of threshold analyses that examined species-specific habitat associations. This study describes urban habitat associations of a native amphibian community, identifies factors with positive, negative or mixed relationships with amphibian species, and is an important step in informing the management of urban aquatic habitat to promote persistence of native amphibians.



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