Amphibian decline, pond loss and reduced population connectivity under agricultural intensification over a 38 year period

Arntzen, J.W., Abrahams, C. ORCID: 0000-0003-0301-5585, Meilink, W.R.M., Iosif, R. and Zuiderwijk, A., 2017. Amphibian decline, pond loss and reduced population connectivity under agricultural intensification over a 38 year period. Biodiversity and Conservation. ISSN 0960-3115

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Abstract

Habitat loss, together with less obvious land-use changes such as intensified farming practice, can have significant adverse impacts on biodiversity. An important factor in determining the ability of species to cope with such changes is their potential to sustain a populations network by dispersal across the landscape. Habitat quality and structure are particularly important for surface-dwelling species with low dispersal abilities, such as amphibians. To assess this ecological function, ponds in a coastal and typically rural area of northern France were surveyed for amphibians in 1974, 1992 and 2011. These repeated surveys yielded different outcomes for different species groups. Three rare species persisted in more or less specialized habitat types. Two moderately common species declined, but kept strongholds in coastal dunes and associated marshes. Five common species with broad ecological niches remained equally widespread. The Northern crested newt declined markedly and the Midwife toad declined dramatically, as did their breeding habitats in vegetated ponds and cattle drinking troughs. One species, the Moor frog, may have gone locally extinct. A model of relative resistance to amphibian dispersal was created for different landscape types, on a scale from 0 (low resistance) to 1 (high resistance). This generated values of 0.23 for pasture, 0.72 for arable and 0.98 for urban and transport. As pasture declined in the study area, while arable and urban/transport infrastructure increased, amphibian dispersal became more difficult. However, dispersal paths proved difficult to evaluate in a patchy landscape like the one surveyed, due to a paucity of spatial signal. Pond loss is a more tractable reason for the observed amphibian species decline than is the quality of intervening terrestrial habitat matrix. In 2011, 22 newly created ponds had species richness in line with pre-existing ponds and this will have counteracted a dwindling metapopulation structure, indicating that habitat creation/restoration can play a valuable role in conservation. The colonization of new ponds may also prove more informative for gauging the potential for amphibian dispersal in the landscape than the preceding decline.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Biodiversity and Conservation
Creators: Arntzen, J.W., Abrahams, C., Meilink, W.R.M., Iosif, R. and Zuiderwijk, A.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 22 February 2017
ISSN: 0960-3115
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1007/s10531-017-1307-yDOI
1307Publisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 27 Feb 2017 13:29
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2017 14:42
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/30280

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