Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 137–147 | Cite as

Variation in age, body size, and reproductive traits among urban and rural amphibian populations

  • Matthew A. Jennette
  • Joel W. SnodgrassEmail author
  • Don C. Forester


Although amphibians use human-created habitats in urban landscapes, few studies have investigated the quality of these habitats. To assess habitat quality of stormwater management ponds and adjacent urban uplands for wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and American toads (Anaxyrus americanus), we compared life history characteristics between populations breeding across an urbanization gradient. Specifically, we compared body size, ages of breeding adults, and female reproductive investment among urban, suburban, and rural populations in Baltimore County, Maryland, USA. Although there was variation in age at maturity among populations, ages of breeding adults did not differ among urban, suburban, and rural areas. Maternal body size strongly influenced reproductive investment in both species, but relationships did not vary among urban, suburban, and rural populations. Adult wood frogs and American toads from more urbanized landscapes were significantly smaller at age than conspecifics from rural landscapes; the magnitude of differences was similar across adult age classes. Our results suggest that in the urban and rural landscapes that we studied, adult habitats are similar in quality, but either larval or juvenile habitats may be of lower quality in urban areas.


Habitat quality Human-created habitats Stormwater ponds Anurans Wood frog American toad Life history 



Beth Fitzpatrick, Mike Hauck, Ryan McGehee, Ryan McDonald, Andrew Snyder, Corey Lavoie, Jen Rollins, Matthew Gallagher, Duncan Simpson, Gina Meletakos, Elizabeth Vetrano, Lisa Chicarella, and Skyler Nunziata assisted with fieldwork. Funding was provided by a USGS National Competitive Grant through the Water Resources Research Institute at The University of Maryland (Project ID: 2007MD160G), the Towson University Graduate Student Association, and the Towson University Environmental Sciences Graduate Program. We conducted animal handling in compliance with approved institutional animal use and care guidelines (IACUC# 021210 JS-02).

Supplementary material

11252_2018_801_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (143 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 143 kb)


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesTowson UniversityTowsonUSA
  2. 2.Geo-Technology Associates Inc.AbingdonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Fish and Wildlife ConservationBlacksburgUSA

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