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Global Amphibian Declines: A Problem in Applied Ecology

Ross A. Alford and Stephen J. Richards
Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics
Vol. 30 (1999), pp. 133-165
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/221682
Page Count: 33
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Global Amphibian Declines: A Problem in Applied Ecology
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Abstract

Declines and losses of amphibian populations are a global problem with complex local causes. These may include ultraviolet radiation, predation, habitat modification, environmental acidity and toxicants, diseases, changes in climate or weather patterns, and interactions among these factors. Understanding the extent of the problem and its nature requires an understanding of how local factors affect the dynamics of local populations. Hypotheses about population behavior must be tested against appropriate null hypotheses. We generated null hypotheses for the behavior of amphibian populations using a model, and we used them to test hypotheses about the behavior of 85 time series taken from the literature. Our results suggest that most amphibian populations should decrease more often than they increase, due to highly variable recruitment and less variable adult mortality. During the period covered by our data (1951-1997), more amphibian populations decreased than our model predicted. However, there was no indication that the proportion of populations decreasing changed over time. In addition, our review of the literature suggests that many if not most amphibians exist in metapopulations. Understanding the dynamics of amphibian populations will require an integration of studies on and within local populations and at the metapopulation level.

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