Wetland Reserve Program Enhances Site Occupancy and Species Richness in Assemblages of Anuran Amphibians in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, USA
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- Walls, S.C., Waddle, J.H. & Faulkner, S.P. Wetlands (2014) 34: 197. doi:10.1007/s13157-013-0498-6
We measured amphibian habitat use to quantify the effectiveness of conservation practices implemented under the Wetland Reserve Program (WRP), an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. From February to June 2007, we quantified calling male anurans in cultivated cropland, former cultivated cropland restored through the WRP, and mature bottomland hardwood forest. Sites were located in two watersheds within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley of Arkansas and Louisiana, USA. We estimated detection probability and site occupancy within each land use category using a Bayesian hierarchical model of community species occurrence, and derived an estimate of species richness at each site. Relative to sites in cultivated cropland, nine of 1 l species detected were significantly more likely to occur at WRP sites and six were more likely to occur at forested sites. Species richness estimates were also higher for WRP and forested sites, compared to those in cultivated cropland. Almost half (45 %) of the species responded positively to both WRP and forested sites, indicating that patches undergoing restoration may be important transitional habitats. Wetland Reserve Program conservation practices are successful in restoring suitable habitat and reducing the impact of cultivation-induced habitat loss on amphibians in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley.