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Influences of Design and Landscape Placement Parameters on Amphibian Abundance in Constructed Wetlands

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Abstract

As natural wetlands disappear, constructed wetlands may play vital roles in amphibian conservation. However, previous investigations have concluded that artificial wetlands do not adequately replace lost wildlife habitat. Nevertheless, constructed wetlands serve as breeding habitat for amphibians where extensive natural wetland loss has occurred. To investigate the roles of engineered wetland features on amphibian abundance, we surveyed 49 constructed wetlands throughout northern Missouri. Cricket frogs (Acris crepitans), bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus), and leopard frogs (Lithobates blairi/sphenocephalus complex) each occurred in over 80% of surveyed wetlands. Salamanders and hylid frogs were rarely encountered. We used an information theoretic approach to examine relationships between individual species and habitat features associated with wetland designs and placements. We found that models incorporating design features of open water ponds best explained abundances of most commonly encountered species. At the placement level, models that included nearby aquatic habitat ranked highest for common species. Salamanders and most hylid frogs responded positively to aquatic vegetative cover but negatively to fish abundance and anthropogenic disturbance-related features in the landscape. Our results indicate that to be effective amphibian conservation tools, constructed wetlands should be fish-free, heavily vegetated, include shallows, and placed within areas of low anthropogenic disturbance.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the staff of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Conservation, University of Missouri Division of Biological Sciences, and University of Missouri Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, especially Gene Gardner, Jeff Briggler, Gayle Unruh, and Buck Brooks. Tracy Rittenhouse, Bethany Williams, Julia Earl, William Peterman, and three anonymous reviewers provided insightful comments on this manuscript. Dana Drake and Andrea Drayer provided dedicated service in the field. United States Environmental Protection Agency Region VII Wetland Development Grant CD-98769101-0 funded this project. We worked under Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Collector’s Permit 13024 and University of Missouri Animal Care and Use Protocol 4189.

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Correspondence to Christopher D. Shulse.

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Online Resource Table 1

Surveyed wetlands and characteristics. Temporary wetlands are in bold (DOC 117 kb).

Online Resource Fig. 1

Locations of surveyed wetlands in northern Missouri. Some dots represent 2 wetlands due to proximity (DOC 178 kb).

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Shulse, C.D., Semlitsch, R.D., Trauth, K.M. et al. Influences of Design and Landscape Placement Parameters on Amphibian Abundance in Constructed Wetlands. Wetlands 30, 915–928 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-010-0069-z

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