Compounding Climate Effects on Amphibians
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, https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1832
The Amphibian Research Lab focuses on amphibian conservation issues. We are currently addressing issues such as invasive species, disease, land use change, and long-term monitoring design for amphibians in North America. We use a combination of comparative surveys and manipulative experiments to understand the factors affecting amphibian distribution and abundance.