Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 181–190 | Cite as

Pond age and riparian zone proximity influence anuran occupancy of urban retention ponds

  • Devynn A. Birx-Raybuck
  • Steven J. Price
  • Michael E. Dorcas


Urbanization is widespread throughout the United States and negatively affects many wildlife populations. However, certain urban features, such as retention ponds, may provide habitat for some species, such as amphibians. This study examines the influence of riparian zone proximity and pond age on retention pond occupancy by anurans. We identified and estimated the age of 25 retention ponds near Charlotte, North Carolina, USA and used a geographic information system to determine the distance to the nearest riparian zone. Occupancy modeling indicated that anuran presence decreased with increasing distance to riparian zone. Pond age also appeared to be an important factor, but the effect varied among species. Although the results of this study demonstrate the potential value of retention ponds to anurans, it is important to be conservative in estimating the ability of these ponds to sustain amphibian populations in urbanized regions.


Anuran Urbanization Retention pond Fragmented landscape Riparian zone Pond age 



The authors would like to thank M. Pilgrim and four anonymous reviewers for their comments that improved the manuscript. We thank W. Anderson, G. Connette, E. Eskew, B. Fonville, D. Millican, and C. Steelman for assistance in the field. Funding was provided by the Davidson College Department of Biology, Duke Power, and a National Science Foundation grant to MED (DEB-0347326).


  1. Andrews KM, Gibbons JW, Jochimsen DM (2008) Ecological effects of roads on amphibians and reptiles: a literature review. In: Mitchell JC, Brown REJ, Bartholomew B (eds) Urban herpetology. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Salt Lake City, pp 121–143Google Scholar
  2. Antrop M (2004) Landscape change and the urbanization process in Europe. Landsc Urban Plan 67:9–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bascietto J, Adams L (1983) Frogs and toads of stormwater management basins in Columbia, Maryland. Bull Maryland Herp Soc 19:58–60Google Scholar
  4. Battin J (2004) When good animals love bad habitats: ecological traps and the conservation of animal populations. Conserv Biol 18:1482–1491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker CG, Fonseca CR, Haddad CFB, Batista RF, Prado PI (2007) Habitat split and the global decline of amphibians. Science 5857:1775–1777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Birch GF, Matthai C, Fazeli MS, Suh JY (2004) Efficiency of a constructed wetland in removing contaminants from stormwater. Wetlands 24:459–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bishop CA, Struger J, Barton DR, Shirose LJ, Dunn L, Lang AL, Shepard D (2000) Contamination and wildlife communities in stormwater detention ponds in Guelph and the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, 1997 and 1998 Part I—wildlife communities. Water Qual Res J Canada 35:399–435Google Scholar
  8. Blair RB (1996) Land use and avian species diversity along an urban gradient. Ecol Appl 6:506–519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burnham KP, Anderson DR (2002) Model selection and multimodel inference: a practical information-theoretic approach. Springer Science and Business Media, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Casey RE, Shaw AN, Massal LR, Snodgrass JW (2005) Multimedia evaluation of trace metal distribution within stormwater retention ponds in suburban Maryland, USA. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 74:273–280CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Casey RE, Simon JA, Atueyi S, Snodgrass JW, Karouna-Renier N, Sparling DW (2007) Temporal trends of trace metals in sediment and invertebrates from stormwater management ponds. Water Air Soil Pollut 178:69–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chadwick MA, Dobberfuhl DR, Benke AC, Huryn AD, Suberkropp K, Thiele JE (2006) Urbanization affects stream ecosystem function by altering hydrology, chemistry, and biotic richness. Ecol Appl 16:1796–1807CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Collins JP, Kinzig A, Grimm NB, Fagan WF, Hope D, Wu J, Borer WT (2000) A new urban ecology. Am Sci 88:416–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cushman SA (2006) Effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on amphibians: a review and prospectus. Biol Conserv 128:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Czech B, Krausman PR (1997) Distribution and causation of species endangerment in the United States. Science 277:1116–1117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dickman CR (1987) Habitat fragmentation and vertebrate species richness in an urban environment. J Appl Ecol 24:337–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dorcas ME, Gibbons JW (2008) Frogs and toads of the southeast. University of Georgia Press, AthensGoogle Scholar
  18. Ewing R, Kostyack J, Chen D, Stein B, Ernst M (2005) Endangered by sprawl: how runaway development threatens America’s wildlife. National Wildlife Federation, Smart Growth America, and NatureServe, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  19. Fahrig L, Pedler JH, Pope SE, Taylor PD, Wegner JF (1995) Effect of road traffic on amphibian density. Biol Cons 73:177–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ficetola GF, De Bernardi F (2004) Amphibians in a human-dominated landscape: the community structure is related to habitat features and isolation. Biol Cons 119:219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gagné SA, Fahrig L (2007) Effect of landscape context on anuran communities in breeding ponds in the National Capital Region, Canada. Landsc Ecol 22:205–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gardner TA, Barlow J, Peres CA (2007) Paradox, presumption and pitfalls in conservation biology: the importance of habitat change for amphibians and reptiles. Biol Conserv 138:166–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ghert SD, Chelsvig JE (2003) Bat activity in an urban landscape: patterns at the landscape and microhabitat scale. Ecol Appl 13:939–950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gibbs JP (1998a) Amphibian movements in response to forest edges, roads, and streambeds in southern New England. J Wildl Manage 62:584–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gibbs JP (1998b) Distribution of woodland amphibians along a forest fragmentation gradient. Landsc Ecol 13:263–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Griffith JA, Stehman SV, Loveland TR (2003) Landscape trends in Mid-Atlantic and southeastern United States ecoregions. Environ Manage 32:572–588CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Guerry AD, Hunter ML Jr (2002) Amphibian distributions in a landscape of forests and agriculture: an examination of landscape composition and configuration. Conserv Biol 16:745–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hamer AJ, McDonnell MJ (2008) Amphibian ecology and conservation in the urbanizing world. Biol Conserv 141:2432–2449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hermann HL, Babbitt KJ, Baber MJ, Congalton RG (2005) Effects of landscape characteristics on amphibian distribution in a forest-dominated landscape. Biol Conserv 123:139–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hope KR (1998) Urbanization and urban growth in Africa. J Asian Afr Stud 33:345–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Knutson MG, Sauer JR, Olsen DR, Mossman MJ, Hemesath LM, Lannoo MJ (1999) Effects of landscape composition and wetland fragmentation on frog and toad abundance and species richness in Iowa and Wisconsin, U.S.A. Conserv Biol 13:1427–1446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lehtinen RM, Galatowitsch SM (2001) Colonization of restored wetlands by amphibians in Minnesota. Am Midl Nat 145:388–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lehtinen RM, Galatowitsch SM, Tester JR (1999) Consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation for wetland amphibian assemblages. Wetlands 19:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lodé T (2000) Effect of a motorway on mortality and isolation of wildlife populations. Ambio 29:163–166Google Scholar
  35. Löfvenhaft K, Runborg S, Sjögren-Gulve P (2004) Biotope patterns and amphibian distribution as assessment tools in urban landscape planning. Landsc Urban Plan 68:403–427Google Scholar
  36. MacKenzie DI, Nichols JD, Lachman GB, Droege S, Royle JA, Langtimm CA (2002) Estimating site occupancy rates when detection probabilities are less than one. Ecology 83:2248–2255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mackin-Rogalska R, Pinowski J, Solon J, Wojcik Z (1988) Changes in vegetation, avifauna, and small mammals in a suburban habitat. Pol Ecol Stud 14:293–330Google Scholar
  38. Marzluff JM (2001) Worldwide urbanization and its effects on birds. In: Marzluff JM, Bowman R, Donnelly R (eds) Avian ecology in an urbanizing world. Kluwer, Norwell, pp 19–47Google Scholar
  39. Massal LR, Snodgrass JW, Casey RE (2007) Nitrogen pollution of stormwater ponds: potential for toxic effects on amphibian embryos and larvae. Appl Herpetol 4:19–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Medley KE, McDonnell MJ, Pickett STA (1995) Forest landscape structure along an urban-to-rural gradient. Prof Geogr 47:159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Merovich CE, Howard JH (2000) Amphibian use of constructed ponds on Maryland’s eastern shore. J Iowa Acad Sci 107:151–159Google Scholar
  42. Mills GS, Dunning JB, Bates JM (1989) Effects of urbanization on breeding bird community structure in southwestern desert habitats. Condor 91:416–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Mitchell JC (1988) Population ecology and life histories of the freshwater turtles Chrysemys picta and Sternotherus odoratus in an urban lake. Herpetol Monogr 2:40–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Murakami A (2005) Trends in urbanization and patterns of land use in the Asian mega cities Jakarta, Bangkok, and Metro Manila. Landsc Urban Plan 70:251–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ostergaard EC, Richter KO, West SD (2008) Amphibian use of stormwater ponds in the Puget lowlands of Washington, USA. In: Mitchell JC, Brown REJ, Bartholomew B (eds) Urban herpetology. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Salt Lake City, pp 259–270Google Scholar
  46. Pechmann JHK, Estes RA, Scott DE, Gibbons JW (2001) Amphibian colonization and use of ponds created for trial mitigation of wetland loss. Wetlands 21:93–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Pickett STA, Cadenasso ML, Grove JM, Nilon CH, Pouyat RV, Zipperer WC, Costanza R (2001) Urban ecological systems: linking terrestrial, ecological, physical, and socioeconomic components of metropolitan areas. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 32:127–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Price SJ, Dorcas ME, Gallant AL, Klaver RW, Willson JD (2006) Three decades of urbanization: estimating the impact of land-cover change on stream salamander populations. Biol Conserv 133:436–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Radeloff VC, Hammer RB, Stewart SI (2005) Rural and suburban sprawl in the US Midwest from 1940 to 2000 and its relation to forest fragmentation. Conserv Biol 19:793–805CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Riley SPD, Busteed GT, Kats LB, Vandergon TL, Lee LFS, Dagit RG, Kerby JL, Fisher RN, Sauvajot RM (2005) Effects of urbanization on the distribution and abundance of amphibians and invasive species in Southern California streams. Conserv Biol 19:1894–1907CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rittenhouse TAG, Semlitsch RD (2007) Distribution of amphibians in terrestrial habitat surrounding wetlands. Wetlands 27:153–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rubbo MJ, Kiesecker JM (2005) Amphibian breeding distribution in an urbanized landscape. Conserv Biol 19:504–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Scher O, Thiéry A (2005) Odonata, amphibia and environmental characteristics in motorway stormwater retention ponds (Southern France). Hydrobiologia 551:237–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schroeder EE (1976) Dispersal and movement of newly transformed green frogs, Rana clamitans. Am Midl Nat 95:471–474CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Simon JA, Snodgrass JW, Casey RE, Sparling DW (2009) Spatial correlates of amphibian use of constructed wetlands in an urban landscape. Landscape Ecol 24:361–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Snodgrass JW, Casey RE, Joseph D, Simon JA (2008) Microcosm investigations of stormwater pond sediment toxicity to embryonic and larval amphibians: variation in sensitivity among species. Environ Pollut 154:291–297CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Stevens CE, Paszkowski CA, Scrimgeour GJ (2006) Older is better: beaver ponds on boreal streams as breeding habitat for the wood frog. J Wildl Manage 70:1360–1371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stumpel AHP, van der Voet H (1998) Characterizing the suitability of new ponds for amphibians. Amphibia-Reptilia 19:125–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sukopp H, Werner P (1982) Nature in cities. Council of Europe, StrasbourgGoogle Scholar
  60. Vasconcelos D, Calhoun AJK (2006) Monitoring created seasonal pools for functional success: a six-year case study of amphibian responses, Sears Island, Maine, USA. Wetlands 26:992–1003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Weaver AL, Garman GC (1994) Urbanization of a watershed and historical changes in a stream fish assemblage. Trans Am Fish Soc 123:162–172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Weir LA, Mossman MJ (2005) North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP). In: Lannoo MJ (ed) Amphibian declines. University of California Press, Berkeley, pp 307–313Google Scholar
  63. Williamson RD, DeGraaf RM (1981) Habitat associations of ten bird species in Washington, D.C. Urban Ecol 5:125–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Windmiller B, Homan RN, Regosin JV, Willitts LA, Wells DL, Reed JM (2008) Breeding amphibian population declines following loss of upland forest habitat around vernal pools in Massachusetts, USA. In: Mitchell JC, Brown REJ, Bartholomew B (eds) Urban herpetology. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Salt Lake City, pp 41–51Google Scholar
  65. Wright AH, Wright AA (1949) Handbook of frogs and toads. Cornell University, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  66. Yahner RH (2003) Terrestrial vertebrates in Pennsylvania: status and conservation in a changing landscape. Northeast Nat 10:343–360Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Devynn A. Birx-Raybuck
    • 1
  • Steven J. Price
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael E. Dorcas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyDavidson CollegeDavidsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

Personalised recommendations