Effects of Agricultural Cultivation on Demographics of Southern High Plains Amphibians


Anthropogenic disturbance of landscapes surrounding wetlands is considered a factor in local and global amphibian declines. Few data exist on the effects of agricultural cultivation of wetland watersheds on amphibians, and results from previous studies are contradictory. Our objective was to test the effects of general anthropogenic land use (cultivation vs. grassland) on the demographics of seven species and three age classes of amphibians in the Southern High Plains of Texas. We partially enclosed 16 playa wetlands (4 per land use per year) with drift fences and pitfall traps and monitored relative daily abundance and diversity from 16 May to 17 October 1999 and 19 April to 18 August 2000. In general, relative abundance (i.e., average daily capture) of New Mexico and plains spadefoots ( Spea multiplicata, S. bombifrons) was greater at cropland than grassland playas; the abundance of other species and diversity of the amphibian assemblage was not affected by land use. Also, abundance generally was greater in 1999 than 2000 for metamorph spadefoots and barred tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum mavortium). Differences in spadefoot abundance between land-use types may have been related to low species-specific vagility, resulting in increased nestedness within disturbed landscapes and reduced abundance of a potential keystone intraguild predator in cropland playas. The yearly difference in amphibian abundance was likely related to annual precipitation, which influenced wetland hydroperiod. Agricultural cultivation surrounding wetlands is associated with the increased abundance of some amphibian species, but other demographic and fitness parameters—such as temporal demographics, body size, and diet diversity—may be negatively affected.

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@inproceedings{Gray2004EffectsOA, title={Effects of Agricultural Cultivation on Demographics of Southern High Plains Amphibians}, author={Matthew J. Gray and L . J . Muzio R . A . Smith and Roberto Brenes}, year={2004} }