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Correlated Factors in Amphibian Decline: Exotic Species and Habitat Change in Western Washington

Michael J. Adams
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 63, No. 4 (Oct., 1999), pp. 1162-1171
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3802834
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3802834
Page Count: 10
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Correlated Factors in Amphibian Decline: Exotic Species and Habitat Change in Western Washington
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Abstract

Amphibian declines may frequently be associated with multiple, correlated factors. In western North America, exotic species and hydrological changes are often correlated and are considered 2 of the greatest threats to freshwater systems. Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) introductions are frequently cited as a threat to lentic-breeding anurans native to western North America and are a suspected factor in the decline of red-legged frogs (Rana aurora) in California. Introduced fish and habitat change are cited less frequently but are equally viable hypotheses. I examined the relation among introduced species, habitat, and the distribution and abundance of red-legged frogs in western Washington. Red-legged frog occurrence in the Puget Lowlands was more closely associated with habitat structure and the presence of exotic fish than with the presence of bull-frogs. The spread of exotics is correlated with a shift toward greater permanence in wetland habitats regionally. Conservation of more ephemeral wetland habitats may have direct benefits for some native amphibians and may also reduce the threat of exotic fish and bullfrogs, both of which were associated with permanent wetlands. Research and conservation efforts for lowland anurans in the West should emphasize the complexities of multiple contributing factors to amphibian losses.

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