Large-scale Review of Amphibian Species and Community Response to Climate Change

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Amphibian species and community richness has been declining in North America and climate change may play a role in these declines. Global climate change has led to a range shift of many wildlife species and thus understanding how these changes in species distribution can be used to predict amphibian community responses that may improve conservation efforts.

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USGS scientists and over forty federal and non-governmental researchers undertook the largest assessment of climate-mediated amphibian community responses to date. Relationships between amphibian species and five climate variables were assessed using an extensive data set with over 500,000 observations for 81 species across 86 study areas and 5,000 sites. Species and community responses to climate variability were not consistent over all ecoregions and magnitude of sensitivity seemed greatest where species naturally contend with climate stressors, such as drought, cold temperatures, and excessive rainfall. However, overall results indicate that climate change was not the major driver of declines in amphibian richness.

Miller, D.A., Grant, E.H., Muths, E., Amburgey, S.M., Adams, M.J., Joseph, M.B., Waddle, J.H., Johnson, P.T., Ryan, M.E., Schmidt, B.R., Calhoun, D.L., Davis, C.L., Fisher, R.N., Green, D.M., Hossack, B.R., Rittenhouse, T., Walls, S.C., Bailey, L.L., Cruickshank, S.S., Fellers, G.M., Gorman, T.A., Haas, C.A., Hughson, W., Pilliod, D.S., Price, S.J., Ray, A.M., Sadinski, W.J., Saenz, D., Barichivich, J., Brand, A., Brehme, C.S., Dagit, R., Delaney, K.S., Glorioso, B.M., Kats, L.B., Kleeman, P.M., Pearl, C.A., Rochester, C.J., Riley, S.P., Roth, M., Sigafus, B.H., 2018, Quantifying climate sensitivity and climate-driven change in North American amphibian communities: Nature Communications, v. 9, no. 3926, p. online,

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Date published: September 20, 2017
Status: Active

FRESC Amphibian Research Team

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.