Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1029–1041 | Cite as

Bird and mammal use of vernal pools along an urban development gradient

  • Carly J. EakinEmail author
  • Malcolm L. HunterJr
  • Aram J. K. Calhoun


Vernal pools in the northeastern US are of conservation concern primarily because of their role as habitat for specialized pool-breeding amphibians, but their use by birds and mammals may also be of interest, especially from the perspective of the impact of urbanization. We describe camera-trapped wildlife (CTW) at 38 vernal pools along an urban development gradient in greater Bangor, Maine, USA. We detected 20 mammal and 39 bird taxa (29 contacted pool water; 39 detected at >1 site). Land cover type within 1000 m (%), within-pool vegetation (%), and amphibian egg mass numbers explained a substantial portion of the variance (40.8%) in CTW assemblage composition. Submerged vegetation within pools and cover by water and impervious surfaces within 1000 m of pools were key site characteristics defining assemblages. We scored the urban-affiliation of taxa and modeled the relationship between weighted assemblage scores for each site and impervious cover. Impervious cover within 1000 m of pools was positively (p < 0.01) related to site urban-affiliation scores. Use probability for red fox increased and snowshoe hare decreased with impervious cover at 1000 m. These results indicate that within-pool vegetation and land cover types at 1000 m influenced bird and mammal assemblages that used study pools and greater impervious cover at 100 and 1000 m was correlated with a shift in assemblages from being dominated by urban-avoider to urban-adapted species. We encourage land use planners and managers to consider the influence of land use practices within 1000 m of vernal pools on birds and mammals, especially near amphibian breeding pools.


Vernal pool Camera trap Urban gradient Urban wildlife Subsidized wildlife Urban wetlands 



We are grateful for support for this study provided by McIntire-Stennis, the Hatch Act, and the National Science Foundation under grant no. 313627. We thank A. Mortelliti for assistance with occupancy modeling, H. Greig, R. Holberton, and M. Kinnison for help with study and analysis design, and D. Dunham for hundreds of hours of visually scanning trail camera photos for animals. This is a Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station Publication Number 3611. This project was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project number #ME021705 through the Maine Agricultural & Forest Experiment Station.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA

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