Biological Invasions

, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp 2179–2191 | Cite as

Investigating the dispersal routes used by an invasive amphibian, Lithobates catesbeianus, in human-dominated landscapes

  • Anna C. PetersonEmail author
  • Katherine L. D. Richgels
  • Pieter T. J. Johnson
  • Valerie J. McKenzie
Original Paper


Clarifying how species move across and utilize human-modified landscapes is key to the conservation of declining populations, as well as to the management and control of invasive species. The North American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus) is a globally distributed invasive amphibian that has been implicated in the decline of native amphibians across its invasive range and may also act as a transport vector for a number of deadly amphibian pathogens. Identifying the landscape-level features that facilitate or hinder this species as it moves across an ever-changing landscape is necessary to inform control efforts and limit this species’ impact on already declining amphibian populations. We conducted surveys of 243 wetlands across the Colorado Front Range and used an information-theoretic approach to evaluate the contribution of wetland-specific characteristics and landscape-level factors in determining the detection of bullfrog populations and breeding bullfrog populations. Specifically, our goal was to determine whether features related to overland dispersal or to the connectivity of wetlands were better predictors of bullfrog occurrence. Our results indicated that landscape-level factors that may either hinder or facilitate overland movement, such as topographic complexity and the density of wetlands, were the best predictors of bullfrog occurrence at the scale of our analysis, rather than characteristics relating to the connectivity of wetlands to lotic waterway systems. We suggest that when considering the control or eradication of this species, efforts should be directed at reducing hydroperiod of wetlands and should target regions with a high density of wetlands and/or low topographic relief.


Biological invasions Bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus Landscape ecology Dispersal Habitat alteration 



For assistance with field surveys, we thank R. Adams, A. Jensen, M. Evans, A. Massaro, A. Brown, R. Parkhill, R. Jadin, K. Dorsa and L. Arellano. For assistance with property access and logistical support we would like to acknowledge Boulder County Parks and Open Space, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, Jefferson County Open Space, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, White River National Forest, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, Colorado State Parks, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and the cities of Fort Collins, Arvada, Northglenn, Thornton, and Westminster. Field research was conducted over numerous years, and as such we would like to gratefully acknowledge funding from a number of sources, including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Boulder County Parks and Open Space Small Grants Program, the Society of Wetland Scientists, the Morris Animal Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Finally, we would like to thank our anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna C. Peterson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Katherine L. D. Richgels
    • 1
  • Pieter T. J. Johnson
    • 1
  • Valerie J. McKenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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