, Volume 583, Issue 1, pp 173-182
Date: 09 Mar 2007

The effect of fish and aquatic habitat complexity on amphibians

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Abstract

Fish introductions are considered one of the most widespread anthropogenic threats to aquatic ecosystems. Their negative impact on native amphibian communities has received increasing attention in recent years. We investigated the relationship between the introduced fish, emergent vegetation cover and native amphibians in man-made ponds generated by regulation and dam building along the Târnava Mare Valley (Romania) during the last 40 years. We inventoried amphibians and fish inhabiting 85 permanent ponds and estimated habitat complexity focusing on emergent vegetation cover. Four amphibian species were found to be negatively associated with the presence of predatory fish. Species richness of ponds without fish and ponds without predatory fish did not differ significantly, whereas ponds containing only predatory fish had significantly lower amphibian richness. A significant positive relationship was found between the emergent vegetation cover and pond occupancy of six amphibian species and amphibian species richness. As a management recommendation, we suggest the restriction of fish introductions to non predatory fish and the maintenance of high emergent vegetation cover in the ponds.

Handling editor: S. Declerck