Because amphibians have both aquatic and terrestrial life stages they can serve in a unique way among vertebrates as sources of information for bioassessments of both wetlands and surrounding habitats. Although there are many data gaps in our knowledge about the habitat requirements and ecology of many amphibian species, it is apparent that community composition, presence and frequency of abnormalities, various mensural characteristics (e.g. snout vent length divided by body weight) and laboratory diagnostics (e.g. cholinesterase activity, blood chemistry) can be used in developing metrics for an index of biotic integrity. In addition, potential metrics can be derived from the various life stages that most amphibians experience such as egg clusters; embryonic development and hatching rates; tadpole growth, development, and survival; progress and success of metamorphosis; and breeding behavior and presence of adults. It is important, however, to focus on regional biodiversity and species assemblages of amphibians in the development of metrics rather than to strive for broadscale application of common metrics. This report discusses the procedures of developing an index of biotic integrity based on amphibians, explains potential pitfalls in using amphibians in bioassessments, and demonstrates where more research is needed to enhance the use of amphibians in evaluating wetland conditions.
Additional publication details
Federal Government Series
Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition #12: Using Amphibians in Bioassessments of Wetlands
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water