Species absence in developed landscapes: an experimental evaluation
- First Online:
Conversion of landscapes is widely associated with loss of biodiversity. While there are several competing hypotheses for the local extinction of species in developed landscapes, experimental approaches are seldom applied to elucidating mechanisms.
In this study, we focus on the habitat degradation hypothesis and predict that poor quality of relictual wetlands in developed landscapes contributes to the absence of wood frogs (Rana sylvatica = Lithobates sylvaticus) by decreasing their performance.
In a translocation experiment, we reared wood frog larvae within enclosures in seven ponds where they naturally occur and in five ponds in developed landscapes where they are absent. Premature pond drying precluded assessing performance in one present pond and one absent pond.
Absent ponds were surrounded by upland buffers dominated by developed land covers while ponds with wood frog breeding populations were surrounded primarily by intact forest. Ponds were largely similar in their attributes. Survival and growth rate did not differ between pond types. Development tended to be slightly more rapid in some absent ponds perhaps related to higher water temperatures.
Despite the highly altered landscapes surrounding them, we find no evidence that absent wetlands provide inferior habitat for wood frog larval recruitment. Performance in absent ponds matched or exceeded that observed in present ponds implying that absence of this species may stem from influences mediated by the upland landscape. These results provide a caution to the typically unexamined presumption that relictual habitats in developed landscapes are degraded in their utility for wildlife.
KeywordsLocal extinction Suburbanization Amphibian Transplant Field experiment Habitat Wetland
- Booth DB, Reinelt LE (1993) Consequences of urbanization on aquatic systems—measured effects, degradation thresholds, and corrective strategies.In: Proceedings of the Watershed’93 conference, pp 545–550Google Scholar
- Felson AJ (2013) The design process as a framework for collaboration between ecologists and designers. In: Pickett STA, McGrath B (eds) Resilience in ecology and urban design: linking theory and practice in sustainable cities, vol 3. Springer, Dordrecht. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-5341-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fry J, Xian G, Jin S, Dewitz J, Homer C, Yang L et al (2011) Completion of the 2006 national land cover database for the conterminous United States. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens 77:858–864Google Scholar
- Gosner KL (1960) A simplified table for staging anuran embryos and larvae. Herpetologica 16:183–190Google Scholar
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (2008) Chapter 13. Wetland restoration, enhancement or creation restoration. In Part 650, Engineering Field Handbook, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Zinn JA, Copeland C (1997) Wetland issues, CRS issue brief. Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC, p 14Google Scholar