Distribution of anuran amphibians in massively altered landscapes in south-eastern Australia: effects of climate change in an aridifying region

Ralph MAC NALLY, Gregory Horrocks, Hania Lada, P. Lake, Jim THOMSON, Andrea Taylor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    31 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Aim We explored whether the anuran amphibian faunas differed among landscapes that are relatively intact (largely covered in forests and woodlands) and others that are completely converted to agriculture. We also used historical data sets to assess the current condition of the anuran fauna in a region predicted to experience, and experiencing, severe drying and warming. Location Five pairs of landscapes (each of c . 20 km 2 ) – one in each pair being almost completely wooded and the other cleared for agriculture – across a 30,000 km 2 region of northern Victoria, Australia. Methods Sites were repeatedly surveyed in the austral winter–spring breeding seasons of 2006 and 2007, with records collected of numbers of calling males and the presence of egg masses and tadpoles. We characterized the sites using static (e.g. dimensions, surrounding physiognomic characteristics such as tree cover) and labile (e.g. pH, dissolved oxygen) variables. Data were analysed using hierarchical Bayesian models. Results For calling males, landscape type did not affect densities or species richness measures. The availability of a grassy verge around water bodies was an important predictor for most species, but other labile and static variables seemed not to be important. Fewer than half of the species historically known from the region were recorded. There were no important predictors of occurrence of egg masses or tadpoles. Reproduction effectively may have failed over the period, with fewer than one in four sites showing evidence of egg masses or tadpoles. Main conclusions The proportion of sites at which some well-studied species (e.g. Crinia signifera, Limnodynastes dumerilii) were recorded has dropped substantially since the 1970s, as have average densities of calling males of Crinia spp. The remnant anuran fauna appears to be dominated by resilient and hardy species with low current diversity. The on-going (12 + years) drought in these landscapes suggests a bleak long-term prognosis for the few remaining species of anuran amphibians.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)575-585
    Number of pages11
    JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
    Volume18
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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    amphibian
    amphibians
    tadpoles
    climate change
    egg masses
    fauna
    egg
    Victoria (Australia)
    agriculture
    prognosis
    dissolved oxygen
    body water
    woodlands
    breeding season
    drying
    drought
    woodland
    species diversity
    warming
    species richness

    Cite this

    @article{b3b8a57d0b624c04b784726c06bccda7,
    title = "Distribution of anuran amphibians in massively altered landscapes in south-eastern Australia: effects of climate change in an aridifying region",
    abstract = "Aim We explored whether the anuran amphibian faunas differed among landscapes that are relatively intact (largely covered in forests and woodlands) and others that are completely converted to agriculture. We also used historical data sets to assess the current condition of the anuran fauna in a region predicted to experience, and experiencing, severe drying and warming. Location Five pairs of landscapes (each of c . 20 km 2 ) – one in each pair being almost completely wooded and the other cleared for agriculture – across a 30,000 km 2 region of northern Victoria, Australia. Methods Sites were repeatedly surveyed in the austral winter–spring breeding seasons of 2006 and 2007, with records collected of numbers of calling males and the presence of egg masses and tadpoles. We characterized the sites using static (e.g. dimensions, surrounding physiognomic characteristics such as tree cover) and labile (e.g. pH, dissolved oxygen) variables. Data were analysed using hierarchical Bayesian models. Results For calling males, landscape type did not affect densities or species richness measures. The availability of a grassy verge around water bodies was an important predictor for most species, but other labile and static variables seemed not to be important. Fewer than half of the species historically known from the region were recorded. There were no important predictors of occurrence of egg masses or tadpoles. Reproduction effectively may have failed over the period, with fewer than one in four sites showing evidence of egg masses or tadpoles. Main conclusions The proportion of sites at which some well-studied species (e.g. Crinia signifera, Limnodynastes dumerilii) were recorded has dropped substantially since the 1970s, as have average densities of calling males of Crinia spp. The remnant anuran fauna appears to be dominated by resilient and hardy species with low current diversity. The on-going (12 + years) drought in these landscapes suggests a bleak long-term prognosis for the few remaining species of anuran amphibians.",
    keywords = "Aquatic habitats, Bayesian inference, climate change, frogs, Goulburn Broken catchment, land-use change, regional drying, tadpoles, Victoria, water management.",
    author = "{MAC NALLY}, Ralph and Gregory Horrocks and Hania Lada and P. Lake and Jim THOMSON and Andrea Taylor",
    year = "2009",
    doi = "10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00469.x",
    language = "English",
    volume = "18",
    pages = "575--585",
    journal = "Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters",
    issn = "1466-822X",
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    Distribution of anuran amphibians in massively altered landscapes in south-eastern Australia: effects of climate change in an aridifying region. / MAC NALLY, Ralph; Horrocks, Gregory; Lada, Hania; Lake, P.; THOMSON, Jim; Taylor, Andrea.

    In: Global Ecology and Biogeography, Vol. 18, 2009, p. 575-585.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Distribution of anuran amphibians in massively altered landscapes in south-eastern Australia: effects of climate change in an aridifying region

    AU - MAC NALLY, Ralph

    AU - Horrocks, Gregory

    AU - Lada, Hania

    AU - Lake, P.

    AU - THOMSON, Jim

    AU - Taylor, Andrea

    PY - 2009

    Y1 - 2009

    N2 - Aim We explored whether the anuran amphibian faunas differed among landscapes that are relatively intact (largely covered in forests and woodlands) and others that are completely converted to agriculture. We also used historical data sets to assess the current condition of the anuran fauna in a region predicted to experience, and experiencing, severe drying and warming. Location Five pairs of landscapes (each of c . 20 km 2 ) – one in each pair being almost completely wooded and the other cleared for agriculture – across a 30,000 km 2 region of northern Victoria, Australia. Methods Sites were repeatedly surveyed in the austral winter–spring breeding seasons of 2006 and 2007, with records collected of numbers of calling males and the presence of egg masses and tadpoles. We characterized the sites using static (e.g. dimensions, surrounding physiognomic characteristics such as tree cover) and labile (e.g. pH, dissolved oxygen) variables. Data were analysed using hierarchical Bayesian models. Results For calling males, landscape type did not affect densities or species richness measures. The availability of a grassy verge around water bodies was an important predictor for most species, but other labile and static variables seemed not to be important. Fewer than half of the species historically known from the region were recorded. There were no important predictors of occurrence of egg masses or tadpoles. Reproduction effectively may have failed over the period, with fewer than one in four sites showing evidence of egg masses or tadpoles. Main conclusions The proportion of sites at which some well-studied species (e.g. Crinia signifera, Limnodynastes dumerilii) were recorded has dropped substantially since the 1970s, as have average densities of calling males of Crinia spp. The remnant anuran fauna appears to be dominated by resilient and hardy species with low current diversity. The on-going (12 + years) drought in these landscapes suggests a bleak long-term prognosis for the few remaining species of anuran amphibians.

    AB - Aim We explored whether the anuran amphibian faunas differed among landscapes that are relatively intact (largely covered in forests and woodlands) and others that are completely converted to agriculture. We also used historical data sets to assess the current condition of the anuran fauna in a region predicted to experience, and experiencing, severe drying and warming. Location Five pairs of landscapes (each of c . 20 km 2 ) – one in each pair being almost completely wooded and the other cleared for agriculture – across a 30,000 km 2 region of northern Victoria, Australia. Methods Sites were repeatedly surveyed in the austral winter–spring breeding seasons of 2006 and 2007, with records collected of numbers of calling males and the presence of egg masses and tadpoles. We characterized the sites using static (e.g. dimensions, surrounding physiognomic characteristics such as tree cover) and labile (e.g. pH, dissolved oxygen) variables. Data were analysed using hierarchical Bayesian models. Results For calling males, landscape type did not affect densities or species richness measures. The availability of a grassy verge around water bodies was an important predictor for most species, but other labile and static variables seemed not to be important. Fewer than half of the species historically known from the region were recorded. There were no important predictors of occurrence of egg masses or tadpoles. Reproduction effectively may have failed over the period, with fewer than one in four sites showing evidence of egg masses or tadpoles. Main conclusions The proportion of sites at which some well-studied species (e.g. Crinia signifera, Limnodynastes dumerilii) were recorded has dropped substantially since the 1970s, as have average densities of calling males of Crinia spp. The remnant anuran fauna appears to be dominated by resilient and hardy species with low current diversity. The on-going (12 + years) drought in these landscapes suggests a bleak long-term prognosis for the few remaining species of anuran amphibians.

    KW - Aquatic habitats

    KW - Bayesian inference

    KW - climate change

    KW - frogs

    KW - Goulburn Broken catchment

    KW - land-use change

    KW - regional drying

    KW - tadpoles

    KW - Victoria

    KW - water management.

    U2 - 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00469.x

    DO - 10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00469.x

    M3 - Article

    VL - 18

    SP - 575

    EP - 585

    JO - Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters

    JF - Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters

    SN - 1466-822X

    ER -