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Local and landscape determinants of amphibian communities in urban ponds

Hamer, Andrew J., Parris, Kirsten M.
Ecological applications 2011 v.21 no.2 pp. 378-390
aquatic plants, breeding, breeding sites, community structure, correspondence analysis, frogs, habitats, humans, landscapes, larvae, open space, ponds, predatory fish, shade, species diversity, urban areas, urbanization, water quality, wetlands, Australia
Urbanization is currently responsible for widespread declines of amphibian populations globally through the loss, isolation, and degradation of habitat. However, it is not clear how urbanization affects amphibian communities at both local (pond) and landscape scales. We assessed the breeding distribution of frogs in ponds along an urban–rural gradient in Greater Melbourne, Australia, and examined community relationships with habitat quality and landscape context. We sampled frog larvae at 65 ponds on four separate occasions and collected data on local pond and landscape variables. Using Bayesian Poisson regression modeling we found that species richness decreased at ponds surrounded by high densities of human residents and at ponds with high water conductivity, whereas species richness increased substantially at ponds surrounded by a high proportion of green open space. Ordination of individual species presence‐absence data by canonical correspondence analysis largely confirmed these findings. Ordination also highlighted the negative influences of pond shading and density of predatory fish, and the positive influence of aquatic vegetation, on community composition. Individual species’ responses to urbanization varied. Urbanization had strong negative effects on species that were associated with well‐vegetated, sunny, fish‐free ponds. Our study highlights the importance of strategic management actions in urban landscapes to improve terrestrial habitat and connectivity around ponds and other wetlands, and local management actions to improve water quality, remove predatory fish, and plant aquatic vegetation at breeding sites.