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Quantitative evidence for the effects of multiple drivers on continental-scale amphibian declines

May 27, 2016

Since amphibian declines were first proposed as a global phenomenon over a quarter century ago, the conservation community has made little progress in halting or reversing these trends. The early search for a “smoking gun” was replaced with the expectation that declines are caused by multiple drivers. While field observations and experiments have identified factors leading to increased local extinction risk, evidence for effects of these drivers is lacking at large spatial scales. Here, we use observations of 389 time-series of 83 species and complexes from 61 study areas across North America to test the effects of 4 of the major hypothesized drivers of declines. While we find that local amphibian populations are being lost from metapopulations at an average rate of 3.79% per year, these declines are not related to any particular threat at the continental scale; likewise the effect of each stressor is variable at regional scales. This result - that exposure to threats varies spatially, and populations vary in their response - provides little generality in the development of conservation strategies. Greater emphasis on local solutions to this globally shared phenomenon is needed.

Publication Year 2016
Title Quantitative evidence for the effects of multiple drivers on continental-scale amphibian declines
DOI 10.1038/srep25625
Authors Evan H. Campbell Grant, David A. W. Miller, Benedikt R. Schmidt, M. J. Adams, Staci M. Amburgey, Thierry A. Chambert, Sam S. Cruickshank, Robert N. Fisher, David M. Green, Blake R. Hossack, Pieter T.J. Johnson, Maxwell B. Joseph, Tracy A. G. Rittenhouse, Maureen E. Ryan, J. Hardin Waddle, Susan C. Walls, Larissa L. Bailey, Gary M. Fellers, Thomas A. Gorman, Andrew M. Ray, David S. Pilliod, Steven J. Price, Daniel Saenz, Walt Sadinski, Erin L. Muths
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70171307
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; Patuxent Wildlife Research Center; John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis