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Estimation of metademographic rates and landscape connectivity for a conservation-reliant anuran

Abstract

Context

Amphibian conservation efforts commonly assume populations are tied to waterbodies that collectively function as a metapopulation. This assumption is rarely evaluated, and there is a need to understand the degree of connectivity among patches to appropriately define, manage, and conserve biological populations.

Objectives

Our objectives were to quantify local persistence, colonization, and recruitment (metademographic rates) in relation to habitat attributes, evaluate the influence of the spatial arrangement of patches on landscape-scale population dynamics, and estimate the scale at which metapopulation dynamics are occurring for Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa).

Methods

We collected R. pretiosa detection/non-detection data and habitat information from 93 sites spread throughout the species’ extant range in Oregon, USA, 2010–2018. We developed a spatial multistate dynamic occupancy model to analyze these data.

Results

The proportion of sites occupied by R. pretiosa was relatively stable despite regular turnover in site occupancy. Connectivity was greatest when the distance between sites was within 4.49–7.70 km, and the results suggested that populations within 1 km are at the appropriate spatial scale for effective population management. Rana pretiosa metademographic rates were strongly tied to water availability, vegetation characteristics, and beaver dams.

Conclusions

Our analysis provides critical information to identify the appropriate spatial scale for effective population management, estimates the distance at which populations are connected, and quantifies the effects of hypothesized threats to species at a landscape scale. We believe this model will prove to be useful to inform conservation and management strategies for multiple species.

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Data availability

Data are available as a U.S. Geological Survey Data Release (https://doi.org/10.5066/P94LYW62).

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Acknowledgements

This study was made possible by the dedicated field crews who collected and managed survey data over the years, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. We thank L.L. Bailey and two anonymous reviewers for providing feedback on an earlier draft of the manuscript. We also thank P. Haggerty for her assistance with GIS analyses. We appreciate K. Van Norman, Bureau of Land Management for continued support of our work and our public and private cooperators, among them the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, the Deschutes, Willamette, and Fremont-Winema National Forests, the Bureau of Land Management Prineville and Klamath Falls Resource Areas, and the Sunriver Nature Center. Funding for this study was provided, in part, by the Interagency Special Status/Sensitive Species Program, a cooperative program of the Pacific Northwest Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon/Washington State offices of the Bureau of Land Management. Additional funding was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. The Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State University, and the Wildlife Management Institute. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. This is contribution number 748 of the U.S. Geological Survey Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative.

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Duarte, A., Peterson, J.T., Pearl, C.A. et al. Estimation of metademographic rates and landscape connectivity for a conservation-reliant anuran. Landscape Ecol 35, 1459–1479 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-020-01030-8

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Keywords

  • Landscape connectivity
  • Movement ecology
  • Occupancy dynamics
  • Oregon spotted frog
  • Rana pretiosa
  • Spatial occupancy model