Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 291–304 | Cite as

Conserving pool-breeding amphibians in human-dominated landscapes through local implementation of Best Development Practices

  • Aram J. K. Calhoun
  • Nicholas A. Miller
  • Michael W. Klemens


Seasonal forest pools in the northeastern USA are unique ecosystems whose functions are intimately associated with adjacent upland habitats. This connection, coupled with their small size and ephemeral surface water, has made conservation of pool resources challenging. Seasonal pools provide optimal breeding habitat for animals adapted to temporary waters including ambystomatid salamanders (Ambystoma spp.), wood frogs (Rana sylvatica LeConte), and some invertebrates and plants. To date, wetland conservation efforts have been primarily limited to 2 pathways: land use regulation and preservation. Although both of these pathways have the potential to conserve some pool resources, they are often insufficient to maintain an array of pools in the landscape that support local population dynamics of amphibians. We propose a third pathway – local land-use planning – that can complement regulatory and preservation efforts. This suite of strategies, embodied in our Best Development Practices (BDPs), recognizes that not all pools will be conserved; local governances will need to develop priorities for conservation. The BDPs encourage local governances to (1) proactively identify their pool resources, (2) rank those pools according to their relative ecological value, and (3) establish management procedures and apply recommended guidelines in accordance with the relative rankings. We recommend that pools be ranked using biological criteria (e.g., presence of listed species, presence of breeding species, and egg mass abundance) and on the availability and quality of adjacent terrestrial habitat. We recommend 3 management zones: the pool depression, the pool envelope (i.e., land within 30 m of the pool), and the critical terrestrial habitat (i.e., 30–230 m from the pool). Residential, industrial, and commercial development, which may compromise pool habitat (e.g., through building and road construction, site clearing, stormwater management, and lighting), should follow the recommended guidelines presented in Appendix 1 of this paper. Planning at the watershed level, using such tools as overlay zones, wetland ordinances, and easements, should lead to more effective, long-term management of, at a minimum, the most ecologically important seasonal forest pool resources and will provide developers with clear development guidelines. This process is already being successfully implemented in a number of New England towns.


Amphibian conservation Best management practices Land use planning Seasonal forest pool Seasonal wetland Sprawl Vernal pool 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Alford, R.A., Richards, S.J. 1999Global amphibian declines: a problem in applied ecologyAnn. Rev. Ecol. Syst30133165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ash, A.N. 1988Disappearance of salamanders from clearcut plotsJ. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc104116122Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bellis, E.D. 1965Home range and movements of the wood frog in a northern bogEcology469098Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Berven, K.A., Grudzien, T.A. 1990Dispersal in the wood frog (Rana sylvatica): implications for genetic population structureEvolution4420472056Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brooks, R.T., Stone, J., Lyons, P. 1998An inventory of seasonal forest ponds on the Quabbin Reservoir watershedMassachusettsNortheastern Nat5219230Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Burne, M.R. 2001Massachusetts Aerial Photo Survey of Potential Vernal PoolsNatural Heritage and Endangered Species ProgramDepartment of Fisheries and WildlifeWestboroughMassachusetts, USAGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Calhoun, A.J.K., deMaynadier, P. 2004Forestry Habitat Management Guidelines for Vernal Pool WildlifeMCA Technical Paper No. 6, Metropolitan Conservation AllianceWildlife Conservation SocietyBronx, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Calhoun, A.J.K., Hunter, M.L.,Jr. 2003

    Managing ecosystems for amphibian populations

    Semlitsch, R.D. eds. Amphibian ConservationSmithsonian Institution PressWashington, D.C.228241
    Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Calhoun, A.J.K., Klemens, M.W. 2002Best Development Practices: Conserving Pool-breeding Amphibians in Residential and Commercial Developments in the Northeastern United StatesMCA Technical Paper No. 5, Metropolitan Conservation AllianceWildlife Conservation SocietyBronx, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Calhoun, A.J.K., Walls, T.E., McCollough, M., Stockwell, S. 2003Developing conservation strategies for vernal pools: a Maine case studyWetlands237081Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Carey, C., Cohen, N., Rollins-Smith,  1999Amphibian declines: an immunological perspectiveDev. Comp. Immunol23459472CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Crouch, W.B., Paton, P.W.C. 2000Using egg-mass counts to monitor wood frog populationsWildlife Soc. Bull28895901Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    deMaynadier, P.G., Hunter, M.L.,Jr. 1995The relationship between forest management and amphibian ecology: a review of the North American literatureEnviron. Rev3230261Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    deMaynadier, P.G., Hunter, M.L.,Jr. 1999Forest canopy closure and juvenile emigration by pool-breeding amphibians in MaineJ. Wildlife Manage63441450Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    DiMauro, D., Hunter, M.L.,Jr. 2002Reproduction of amphibians in natural and anthropogenic temporary pools in managed forestsForest Sci48397406Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dodd, C.K.,Jr., Cade, B.S. 1997Movement patterns and the conservation of amphibians in small, temporary wetlandsConserv. Biol12331339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dunning, J.B., Danielson, B.J., Pulliam, H.R. 1992Ecological processes that affect populations in complex landscapesOikos65169175Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Egan, R.S., Paton, P.W.C. 2004Within-pond parameters affecting oviposition by wood frogs and spotted salamandersWetlands24113Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Faccio, S.D. 2003Post-breeding emigration and habitat use of radio-implanted Jefferson and spotted salamanders in VermontJ. Herpetol37479489Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Fahrig, L., Pedlar, J.H., Pope, S.E., Taylor, P.D., Wegner, J.F. 1995Effect of road traffic on amphibian densityBiol. Conserv73177182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ferguson, B.K. 1994Stormwater InfiltrationLewis PublishingNew York, New York, USAGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Forman, R.T.T, Sperling, D., Bissonette, J.A., Clevenger, A.P., Cutshall, C.D., Dale, V.H., Fahrig, L., France, R., Goldman, C.R., Heanue, K., Jones, J.A., Swanson, F.J., Turrentine, T., Winter, T.C. 2003Road Ecology: Science and SolutionsIsland PressWashington, D.C., USAGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fretwell, J.D., Williams, J.S., Redman, P.J. 1996National Water Summary on Wetland ResourcesUSGS Water Supply Paper 2425Washington, USA(compilers).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gibbs, J.P. 1993Importance of small wetlands for the persistence of local populations of wetland-associated animalsWetlands132531Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Gibbs, J.P. 1998Distribution of woodland amphibians along a forest fragmentation gradientLandscape Ecol13263268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Gibbs, J.P. 2000Wetland loss and biodiversity conservationConserv. Biol14314317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hanski, I., Gilpin, M.E. 1991Metapopulation dynamics: brief history and conceptual domainBiol. J. Linn. Soc42316Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Heatwole, H. 1961Habitat selection and activity of the woodfrog, Rana sylvaticaAm. Midl. Nat66301313Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Holman, R.N., Regosin, J.V., Rodrigues, D.M., Reed, M.J., Windmiller, B.S., Romero, L.M. 2003Impacts of varying habitat quality on the physiological stress of spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum)Anim. Conserv61118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hunter, M.L.,Jr., Calhoun, A.J.K., McCollough, M. 1999Amphibians and Reptiles of MaineUniversity of Maine PressOronoMaineUSAGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Keddy, P.A. 2000Wetland Ecology: Principles and ConservationCambridge University PressCambridgeUKGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kirkman, L.K., Golladay, S., LaClaire, L., Sutter, R. 1999Biodiversity in southeastern seasonally-ponded isolated wetlands: management and policy perspectives for research and conservationJ. N. Am. Benthol. Soc18553562Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Klemens, M.W. 1990The Herpetofauna of Southwestern New EnglandUniversity of KentCanterbury, UKPh.D. Dissertation.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Klemens, M.W. 2000Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut: A Checklist with Notes on Conservation Status, Identification, and DistributionConnecticut Department of Environmental Protection, DEP Bulletin No. 32, HartfordConnecticutUSAGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Laan, R., Verboom, B. 1990Effects of pools size and isolation of amphibian communitiesBiol. Conserv54251262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Lannoo, M.J. eds. 1998Status and Conservation of Midwestern AmphibiansUniversity of Iowa PressIowa City, IowaUSAGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Lehtinen, R.M., Galatowitsch, S.M., Tester, J.R. 1999Consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation for wetland amphibian assemblagesWetlands19112Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Lichko, L., Calhoun, A.J.K. 2003An Assessment of vernal pool creation attempts in New England: a review of project documentation from 1991–2000Environ. Manage32141151CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Madison, D.M. 1997The emigration of radio-implanted spotted salamanders, Ambystoma maculatumJ. Herpetol31542552Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Madison, D.M., Farrand, L.,III. 1998Habitat use during breeding and emigration in radio-implanted Tiger Salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinumCopeia2402410Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Marsh, D.M., Trenham, P.C. 2001Metapopulation dynamics and amphibian conservationConserv. Biol154049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Middlesex County Soil and Water Conservation District. 2000. Vernal Pool Inventory. Middletown, Connecticut, USA, Unpublished report. Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Miller N.A. and Klemens M.W. In press. Freshwater wetland biodiversity in an urbanizing world. In: Johnson E. and Klemens M.W. (eds.), Sprawl’s Effects on Biodiversity. Columbia University Press, New York, New York, USA. Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Mitchell, J.C., Klemens, M.W. 2000

    Primary and secondary effects of habitat alteration

    Klemens, M.W. eds. Turtle ConservationSmithsonian Institution PressWashington, D.C., USA532
    Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Pechmann, J.H.K., Scott, D.E., Semlitsch, R.D., Caldwell, J.P., Vitt, L.J., Gibbons, J.W. 1991Declining amphibian populations: the problem of separating human impacts from natural fluctuationsScience253892895Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Pope, S.E., Fahrig, L., Merriam, H.G. 2000Landscape complementation and metapopulation effects on leopard frog populationsEcology8124982508Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Preisser, E.L., Kefer, J.Y., Lawrence, J.D., Clark, T.W. 2000Vernal pool conservation in Connecticut: an assessment and recommendationsEnviron. Manage26503513CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Regosin, J.V., Windmiller, B.S., Reed, M.J. 2003aInfluence of abundance of small-mammal burrows and conspecifics on the density and distribution of spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) in terrestrial habitatsCan. J. Zool81596605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Regosin, J.V., Windmiller, B.S., Reed, M.J. 2003bTerrestrial habitat use and winter densities of the wood frog (Rana sylvatica)J. Herpetol37390394Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Rothermel, B.B., Semlitsch, R.D. 2002An experimental investigation of landscape resistance of forest versus old-field habitats to emigrating juvenile amphibiansConserv. Biol1613241332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Semlitsch, R.D. 1981Terrestrial activity and summer home range of the mole salamanderAmbystoma talpoideumCan. J. Zool59315322Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Semlitsch, R.D. 1998Biological delineation of terrestrial buffer zones for pond-breeding amphibiansConserv. Biol1211131119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Semlitsch, R.D. 2000Principles for management of aquatic-breeding amphibiansJ. Wildlife Manage64615631Google Scholar
  54. 54.
    Semlitsch, R.D. 2002Critical elements for biologically based recovery plans of aquatic-breeding amphibiansConserv. Biol16619629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Semlitsch, R.D. eds. 2003Amphibian ConservationSmithsonian InstitutionWashington, USAGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Semlitsch, R.D., Bodie, J.R. 1998Are small, isolated wetlands expendable?Conserv. Biol1211291133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Snodgrass, J.W., Komoroski, M.J., Bryan, A.L.,Jr., Burger, J. 2000Relationships among isolated wetland sizehydroperiodand amphibian species richness: implications for wetland regulationsConserv. Biol14414419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Stone, J.S. 1992Vernal Pools in Massachusetts: Aerial Photographic Identification, Biological and Physiographic Characteristics, and State Certification CriteriaUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstMassachusetts, USAM.S. Thesis.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Theobald, D.M., Hobbs, N.T., Bearly, T., Zack, J., Shenk, T., Riebsame, W.E. 2000Incorporating biological information into local land use decision-making: designing a system for conservation planningLandscape Ecol153545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Turtle, S.L. 2000Embryonic survivorship of the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) in roadside and woodland vernal pools in southeastern New HampshireJ. Herpetol346067Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Vasconcelos, D., Calhoun, A.J.K. 2004Movement patterns of adult and juvenile Rara Sylvatica (LeConte) and Ambystoma maculatum (Shaw) in Three restored seasonal pools in MaineJ. Herpetol38551561Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Wilcove, D.S., Rothstein, D., Dubow, J. 1998Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United StatesBioScience48607615Google Scholar
  63. 63.
    Windmiller, B.S. 1990The Limitations of Massachusetts Regulatory Protection for Temporary Pool-breeding AmphibiansTufts UniversityMedfordMassachusetts, USAM.S. Thesis.Google Scholar
  64. 64.
    Windmiller, B.S. 1996The Pondthe Forestand the City: Spotted Salamander Ecology and Conservation in a Human-dominated LandscapeTufts UniversityMedfordMassachusetts, USAPh.D. Dissertation.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Young, B.E., Lips, K.R., Reaser, J.K., Ibanez, R., Salas, A.W., Cedeno, J.R., Coloma, L.A., Ron, S., La Marca, E., Meyer, J.R., Munoz, A., Bolanos, F., Chaves, G., Romo, D. 2001Amphibian conservation in Latin AmericaConserv. Biol1512131223CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aram J. K. Calhoun
    • 1
  • Nicholas A. Miller
    • 2
  • Michael W. Klemens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Plant, Soil, and Environmental SciencesOronoUSA
  2. 2.Metropolitan Conservation Alliance/Wildlife Conservation SocietyNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations