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Contrasting effects of temperature and precipitation change on amphibian phenology, abundance and performance


Climate change is determining a generalized phenological advancement, and amphibians are among the taxa showing the strongest phenological responsiveness to warming temperatures. Amphibians are strongly influenced by climate change, but we do not have a clear picture of how climate influences important parameters of amphibian populations, such as abundance, survival, breeding success and morphology. Furthermore, the relative impact of temperature and precipitation change remains underappreciated. We used Bayesian meta-analysis and meta-regression to quantify the impact of temperature and precipitation change on amphibian phenology, abundance, individual features and performance. We obtained effect sizes from studies performed in five continents. Temperature increase was the major driver of phenological advancement, while the impact of precipitation on phenology was weak. Conversely, population dynamics was mostly determined by precipitation: negative trends were associated with drying regimes. The impact of precipitation on abundance was particularly strong in tropical areas, while the importance of temperature was feeble. Both temperature and precipitation influenced parameters representing breeding performance, morphology, developmental rate and survival, but the response was highly heterogeneous among species. For instance, warming temperature increased body size in some species, and decreased size in others. Similarly, rainy periods increased survival of some species and reduced the survival of others. Our study showed contrasting impacts of temperature and precipitation changes on amphibian populations. Both climatic parameters strongly influenced amphibian performance, but temperature was the major determinant of the phenological changes, while precipitation had the major role on population dynamics, with alarming declines associated with drying trends.

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We thank R. Gavazzi for help in data gathering; the comments of two reviewers improved an earlier version of this paper. GFF is member of LECA, which is part of OSUG@2020.

Author contribution statement

GFF and LM jointly participated to all the phases of the research (planning, data gathering, analyses). GFF wrote the first draft of the manuscript, with subsequent contribution of LM.

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Correspondence to Gentile Francesco Ficetola.

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Communicated by Raoul Van Damme.

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Ficetola, G.F., Maiorano, L. Contrasting effects of temperature and precipitation change on amphibian phenology, abundance and performance. Oecologia 181, 683–693 (2016).

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  • Amphibian decline
  • Breeding success
  • Climatic oscillation
  • Geographical bias
  • Population dynamics