The effects of urbanization on North American amphibian species: Identifying new directions for urban conservation
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Urbanization is a pervasive and growing threat to amphibian populations globally. Although the number of studies is increasing, many aspects of basic amphibian biology have not been investigated in urban settings. We reviewed 32 urban studies from North America and quantified the number of species studied and their response to urbanization. We examined existing research on breeding habitats, life-history stages, movement patterns, and habitat use relative to urbanization. We found amphibians as a whole respond negatively to urbanization (69 reported responses were negative, 6 were positive and 35 showed no effect). We caution, however, that many North American species still lack or are associated with conflicting information regarding species-specific responses (e.g., 89 potential responses were unknown). Approximately 40% of all anuran and 14% of caudate species in North America were investigated in the literature; however, the most diverse genera (e.g., Plethodon and Eurycea) were the most understudied likely due to their cryptic terrestrial lifestyles and biases in sampling protocols that assess wetland habitats via call surveys. Research on movement and small scale habitat use was deficient. Adult, juvenile, tadpole, and egg mass life-history stages commonly served as direct measures of species presence and abundance; however, such data do not accurately reflect recruitment into subsequent age classes and population persistence. The lack of data on many North American species may be contributing to poor management of urban amphibian populations and their habitats.