Response of Anurans to Wetland Restoration on a Midwestern Agricultural Landscape

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Bartelt, Paul
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Klaver, Robert
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
The Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is dedicated to the understanding, effective management, and sustainable use of our renewable natural resources through the land-grant missions of teaching, research, and extension.
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Since the early 1990s, >5,000 ha of historic wetlands (and adjacent prairie) have been restored on the row-crop agricultural landscape of Winnebago County, Iowa, USA. From 2008–2011, we surveyed 22 of these sites for probabilities of occupancy and colonization by Boreal Chorus Frogs (BCF; Pseudacris maculata), Northern Leopard Frogs (NLF; Lithobates pipiens), and American Toads (AT; Anaxyrus americanus). We used radio telemetry to measure patterns of movement and habitat use by 22 NLF and 54 AT and deployed biophysical models in available habitats to estimate their physiological costs. The BCF occupied 100% of restored wetlands; NLF and AT occupied 59–91% and 71–89%, respectively, varying according to annual weather conditions. The BCF colonized new sites within a year; NLF and AT required 3 and 2 yr, respectively. These differences were related to distances from the nearest established population and costs of intervening cover types, and were statistically related to the size and orientation of restored wetlands. The ranges of maximum straight-line distances moved by NLF and AT were 31–857 m and 42–2,932 m, respectively. Both NLF and AT selected wetlands and surrounding prairies, though NLF were nine times more likely to select wetland habitats than all others combined. About 24% of AT used row-crop fields extensively, but not until crops had grown sufficiently to reduce the physiological costs of these fields similar to that of prairies. Both BCF and AT navigated the dramatically altered row-crop landscape, but NLF depended more heavily on roadside ditches to find and colonize restored wetlands.


This article is published as Bartelt, Paul E., and Robert W. Klaver. "Response of Anurans to Wetland Restoration on a Midwestern Agricultural Landscape." Journal of Herpetology 51, no. 4 (2017): 504-514. doi: 10.1670/16-113. Posted with permission.