Many amphibians breed in water but live most of their lives in terrestrial habitats. Little is known, however, about the spatial distribution of these habitats or of the distances and directions amphibians move to reach breeding sites. The amphibian community at a small, temporary pond in northcentral Florida was monitored for 5 years. Based on captures and recaptures of more than 2500 striped newts (Notophthalmus perstriatus) and 5700 eastern narrow-mouthed toads (Gastrophryne carolinensis), we tabulated the angles of orientation that these amphibians entered and exited the pond basin. Our results showed that movements of these species between the pond and terrestrial habitats were nonrandom in orientation, but that narrow corridors did not appear to be used. Differences between the species likely reflect differences in habitat preferences, whereas intraspecific differences among years and between the sexes likely reflect variation among individuals. For terrestrial buffer zones to be effective at conserving pond-breeding amphibian communities, they need both a distance and a directional component. The determination of a directional component may be obscured if studies are carried out over a short time span. Conservation efforts for wetland-breeding amphibians that concentrate solely on the wetland likely will fail without consideration of the adjacent terrestrial habitat.
Additional publication details
Movement patterns and the conservation of amphibians breeding in small, temporary wetlands