The Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) is an innovative, multidisciplinary program that began in 2000 in response to a congressional directive for the Department of the Interior to address the issue of amphibian declines in the United States. ARMIi??s formulation was cross-disciplinary, integrating U.S. Geological Survey scientists from Biology, Water, and Geography
to develop a course of action (Corn and others, 2005a). The result has been an effective program with diverse, yet complementary, expertise.
ARMIi??s approach to research and monitoring is multiscale. Detailed investigations focus on a few species at selected local sites throughout the country; monitoring addresses a larger number of species over broader areas (typically, National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges); and inventories to document species occurrence are conducted more extensively across the landscape. Where monitoring is conducted, the emphasis is on an ability to draw statistically defensible conclusions about the status of amphibians. To achieve this objective, ARMI has instituted a monitoring response variable that has nationwide applicability. At research sites, ARMI focuses on studying species/environment interactions, determining causes of observed declines, and developing new techniques to sample populations and analyze data. Results from activities at all scales are provided to scientists, land managers, and policymakers, as appropriate.
The ARMI program and the scientists involved contribute significantly to understanding amphibian
declines at local, regional, national, and international levels. Within National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, findings help land managers make decisions applicable to amphibian conservation. For example, the National Park Service (NPS) selected amphibians as a vital sign for several of their monitoring networks, and ARMI scientists provide information and assistance in developing monitoring methods for this NPS effort. At the national level, ARMI has had major exposure at a variety of meetings, including a dedicated symposium at the 2004 joint meetings
of the Herpetologistsi?? League, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Several principal investigators have brought international exposure to ARMI through venues such as the World Congress of Herpetology
in South Africa in 2005 (invited presentation by Dr. Gary Fellers), the Global Amphibian Summit, sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Wildlife Conservation International, in Washington, D.C., 2005 (invited participation by Dr. P.S. Corn), and a special issue of the international herpetological journal Alytes focused on ARMI in 2004 (edited by Dr. C.K. Dodd, Jr.).
ARMI research and monitoring efforts have addressed at least 7 of the 21 Threatened and Endangered Species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (California red-legged frog [Rana draytonii], Chiricahua leopard frog [R. chiricahuensis], arroyo toad [Bufo californicus], dusky gopher frog [Rana sevosa], mountain yellow-legged frog [R. muscosa], flatwoods salamander [Ambystoma cingulatum], and the golden coqui [Eleutherodactylus jasperi]), and 9 additional species of concern recognized by the IUCN. ARMI investigations have addressed time-sensitive research, such as emerging infectious diseases and effects on amphibians related to natural disasters like wildfire, hurricanes, and debris flows, and the effects of more constant, environmental
change, like urban expansion, road development, and the use of pesticides.
Over the last 5 years, ARMI has partnered with an extensive list of government, academic, and private entities. These partnerships have been fruitful and have assisted ARMI in developing new field protocols and analytic tools, in using and refining emerging technologies to improve accuracy and efficiency of data handling, in cond
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
The Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI): 5-year report