Title

Evaluating Anuran Relative Abundance and Assessing Salamander Movements in Protected Areas

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Karen Root, Dr.

Second Advisor

Jeff Miner, Dr. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Helen Michaels, Dr. (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Enrique Gomezdelcampo, Dr. (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Peter Lu, Dr. (Committee Member)

Abstract

Amphibians are important creatures that serve as indicators of wetland health. Recently, there has been a substantial decline in amphibian numbers due to multiple factors including Chytrid fungus and other diseases, habitat destruction and fragmentation, collection, invasive species, and changing climate. While studies on amphibians are on the rise, none have been conducted in the Oak Openings Region of northwest Ohio. This region is a unique mosaic of habitat types ranging from wet prairies, to sand dunes, to oak savannas. These are only three of the fifteen habitat types that encompass the region. In addition, this mixed disturbance landscape is facing urbanization from the north and encroaching agriculture from the south which may put local amphibian communities in jeopardy. There were three main goals to my study: 1) to determine important landscape, local, and environmental variables to anurans, 2) to determine movement patterns of salamanders, and 3) to determine leaf litter preference for three species of anurans. First I used frog call surveys along with habitat and environmental measurements to determine what was important to anurans over a two-year period. Different variables were important across spatial scales and these patterns varied temporally. Second, I used fluorescent powder to track salamanders at night. I found that both tiger and spotted salamanders exhibited directionality in movement, but neither this nor any other movement variables measured could be explained by snout-vent length. Third, I used a controlled mescosm experiment to determine leaf litter preferences (maple v. oak) among three Ranid spp. American bullfrogs showed a preference for oak but none of the three species differed significantly from each other.