J. Alan Yeakley

Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Environmental Science and Management


Environmental Science and Management

Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 123 pages)


Amphibians -- Habitat -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Riparian forests -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Stream ecology -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Urban ecology (Biology) -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area




This study assessed the influence of landscape development on stream-associated amphibians in forested riparian areas within the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region. Human alteration of landscapes may dramatically affect the ecology of neighboring aquatic systems. It was hypothesized that lotic amphibians would be negatively associated with greater amounts of landscape development and positively associated with forested area within the surrounding watershed. Thirty-seven 1st-3rd order streams were sampled between June 21st and September 21st in 2011. Streams potentially providing adequate habitat for stream-obligate amphibians were randomly selected. Amphibians were surveyed along 30-meter stream transects using an active-cover search (ACS). Environmental variables associated with development in surrounding landscapes were measured in situ. GIS delineation was conducted to define landscape-scale variables at stratified distances from riparian networks up-stream of each site via the utilization of the 2006 NLCD dataset and a finer-scale, regional dataset compiled by the Institute for Natural Resources (INR). Amphibians were detected at seventeen of the thirty-seven sampled streams. The most commonly detected species were Dicamptadon tenebrosus, Plethadon vehiculum and Plethadon dunni. Streams where amphibians were observed had lower average water temperature and conductivity, coarser stream substrate and were located on public property more often than streams where no amphibians were detected. Landscape variables were most significant to amphibians within 100 and 200 meters of the upstream stream network. Occupancy of a site by facultative species was best explained by the proportion of mixed forest in the surrounding watershed (R2=0.343, p<0.001). Occupancy of a stream by obligate species was best predicted by measurements of water quality and in-stream cover (Water Temperature: R2=0.275, p<0.001; Water Conductivity: R2=0.248, p<0.001; Cover: R2=0.323, p<0.001). Occupancy of stream refugia by all observed amphibians was positively influenced by higher percentages of forest cover and lower percentages of urban development and herbaceous vegetation in the surrounding watershed. Results of this study indicate that urban refugia must contain adequate riparian forest area, coarse stream substrate and clean, cool water to sustain stream-amphibian communities. Protection of remnant forested headwater stream networks is essential to the conservation of lotic amphibians in this urbanized region.

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