, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 205-215

Effect of landscape context on anuran communities in breeding ponds in the National Capital Region, Canada

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Abstract

Land cover change, predominantly habitat conversion to agricultural use and urbanization, has recently been recognized as the primary cause of biodiversity loss in terrestrial ecosystems. We evaluated the relative effects of urban and agricultural landscapes on anuran species richness and the abundance of six anuran species found at breeding ponds in and around the cities of Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. We performed six call surveys at 29 permanent focal ponds surrounded by one of three landscape contexts: primarily urban, primarily agricultural, and primarily forested. We also measured three local pond variables to control for the effects of local habitat quality in our analyses. We found that anuran species richness was significantly lower in breeding ponds in urban landscapes compared to forested and agricultural landscapes, which exhibited no significant difference in species richness. The abundances of individual anuran species were also consistently lower in urban landscapes for all species except one, which exhibited no response to landscape type. Three species had their highest abundances in ponds in forested landscapes, whereas two species had their highest abundances in ponds in agricultural landscapes. We conclude that ponds embedded in urban landscapes support lower biodiversity than ponds in agricultural settings. We suggest that landscapes composed of a mosaic of forest and open habitats surrounding wetlands would hold the highest biodiversity of these species.