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Fragmentation may be linked to local amphibian extinctions

ctively; the toads moved 108 vs. 33 feet, respectively).

The juvenile toads' preference for the forest came as a surprise because the species is ubiquitous, occurring in natural and disturbed habitats alike. The fact that the juvenile toads avoided the open field shows that juvenile behavior cannot be predicted based on adult behavior, say the researchers.

Rothermel and Semlitsch suggest that moving through fields would make the juvenile amphibians more vulnerable to predators or desiccation. They compared how fast juvenile salamanders desiccated in the forest and in the field, and found that in a 24-hour period they lost about a third more water in the field (6% vs. 4.5% of their body weight in the field and forest, respectively). This is not surprising because the maximum temperatures were roughly 10 degrees Celsius higher in field than in forest.

Rothermel concludes that conserving amphibian populations in highly fragmented forests may require connecting their habitat patches. "The results of this study suggest that juvenile amphibians might preferentially use corridors of natural vegetation," she says.


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Contact: Betsie Rothermel
bbrd7b@mizzou.edu
573-882-1421
Society for Conservation Biology
24-Sep-2002


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