Compounding Climate Effects on Amphibians

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In montane ecosystems of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, increasing temperatures are resulting in a transition from snow-dominated to rain-dominated precipitation events, reducing snowpack.

For ectotherms such as amphibians, warmer winters can lower the snow pack which exposes amphibians to colder temperatures that decrease survival and result in wetlands that dry sooner in the summer, increasing larval desiccation risk. A warmer climate can also increase the length of summer growing seasons, benefiting post-metamorphic stages. To evaluate how these challenges and opportunities compound or buffer within a species’ life history, researchers collected demographic data on Cascades frogs in Olympic National Park in Washington state to model population changes under current and future environmental conditions. Model estimates suggest that the population is currently growing, but climate change is predicted to cause declines and a 62 percent chance of extinction by the 2080s. Prior to 2040, larval desiccation is the primary driver of declines but between 2040 and 2080 there will be the compounding effect of a reduction in adult survival.

Kissel, A.M., Palen, W.J., Ryan, M.E., Adams, M.J., 2018, Compounding effects of climate change reduce population viability of a montane amphibian: Ecological Applications, p. online,

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Date published: September 20, 2017
Status: Active

Herpetological Research Team (FRESC)

The Herpetological Research Team focuses on issues related to conservation and management of amphibians and other aquatic and semi-aquatic species. Among our current studies are effects of invasive species, disease, and land use change on the dynamics of amphibian communities to inform conservation and management decision making.