, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 545–557 | Cite as

Drying Rates of Ephemeral Wetlands: Implications for Breeding Amphibians

  • Houston C. ChandlerEmail author
  • Daniel L. McLaughlin
  • Thomas A. Gorman
  • Kevin J. McGuire
  • Jeffrey B. Feaga
  • Carola A. Haas
Original Research


Ephemeral wetlands provide breeding habitat for many amphibian species, and wetland hydrology plays a crucial role in determining amphibian breeding success. We discuss the potential influence of recession rates (i.e., rate of water level decline) and empirically evaluate them in wetlands inhabited by the endangered reticulated flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma bishopi). Rapid water level declines are potentially problematic for reticulated flatwoods salamanders because this species has a long development period, with metamorphosis generally occurring from March to May when groundwater losses are combined with high evapotranspiration rates. To evaluate magnitude, variability, and drivers of recession rates, we monitored water levels in 33 wetlands in the Florida panhandle and examined recession rates during the flatwoods salamander reproductive period. After controlling for the effects of specific yield, standardized recession rates were, on average, 3.9 times daily potential evapotranspiration rates, suggesting that groundwater fluxes are an important driver of water level declines in these wetlands. Standardized recession rates were variable across the landscape and increased with decreasing wetland size, indicating that larger wetlands are often hydrologically more suitable for flatwoods salamanders. This work points to these and other controls on wetland recession rates and their role in regulating amphibian reproductive success.


Ambystoma bishopi Reticulated flatwoods salamander Florida Hydrology Pine flatwoods Recession rates 



We thank the many people that have assisted with this work, especially K. Brown, T. Craig, K. Gault, S. Goodman, B. Hagedorn, J. Johnson, K. Jones, Y. Liang, J. Preston, and B. Rincon. We thank the Natural Resources Branch of Eglin Air Force Base (Jackson Guard), Hurlburt Field, Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program, the US Fish and Wildlife Service Panama City Field Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Enhancement program, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech for financial and logistical support of this project. This work was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, McIntire Stennis project 1006328. The manuscript benefited from the comments of two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Houston C. Chandler
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Daniel L. McLaughlin
    • 3
  • Thomas A. Gorman
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kevin J. McGuire
    • 3
    • 5
  • Jeffrey B. Feaga
    • 1
  • Carola A. Haas
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Fish and Wildlife ConservationVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.The Orianne SocietyTigerUSA
  3. 3.Department of Forest Resources and Environmental ConservationVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  4. 4.Aquatic Resources Division, Washington State Department of Natural ResourcesChehalisUSA
  5. 5.Virginia Water Resources Research CenterVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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