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Defining core habitat of local populations of the gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) based on choice of oviposition site

Abstract

Concern over amphibian population declines and loss of terrestrial and aquatic habitat have emphasized the need to define habitat requirements for each stage in a species' life history. The realization that pond-breeding amphibians spend most of their lives in the terrestrial environment suggests the need to protect terrestrial as well as aquatic habitat. Many studies on amphibian populations have focused on emigration from breeding sites to define habitat use; however these studies do not typically elucidate terrestrial activities of adults within the breeding season. We measured colonization rates of artificial pools by gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) at multiple distances from natural breeding ponds. We found a non-random distribution of egg deposition among distances, with 95% of eggs deposited within 15 m of the breeding pond. Additionally, we found that the time to first colonization of artificial pools increased with respect to distance. Our results indicate that adult gray treefrogs may travel up to 200 m within a breeding season, and that multiple breeding ponds may be considered part of a single population. We suggest that a minimum core terrestrial habitat of 60 m surrounding breeding sites is appropriate for protection of local populations of gray treefrogs.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank J. Crawford, G. Woloszyn, D. Johnson and T. Green for assistance in monitoring ponds and counting eggs. We also thank G. Woloszyn for assistance in filling wading pools, and C. Dillman for helping to transport and arrange the wading pools into transects. We thank J. Millspaugh for permission to access the field sites at the Baskett Wildlife Research Area. We also thank B. Rothermel, T. Green, J. Crawford and two anonymous reviewers for comments on early drafts of this manuscript. Funding for this research was provided by a grant from the U.S. Geological Survey (01CRAG0007) to R.D.S.

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Correspondence to Jarrett R. Johnson.

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Johnson, J.R., Semlitsch, R.D. Defining core habitat of local populations of the gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) based on choice of oviposition site. Oecologia 137, 205–210 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-003-1339-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00442-003-1339-8

Keywords

  • Amphibian
  • Colonization
  • Core Habitat
  • Hyla
  • Metapopulation