Ditches are common in landscapes influenced by agricultural, forestry, and peat mining activities, and their value as corridors remains unassessed. Pond-breeding amphibians can encounter hostile environments when moving between breeding, summering, or hibernation sites, and are likely to benefit from the presence of ditches in the landscape. Within a system consisting of ditch networks in bogs mined for peat in eastern New Brunswick, Canada, I quantified the breeding, survival, and movements of green frogs (Rana clamitans melanota) in drainage ditches and also surveyed peat fields. Frogs rarely ventured on peat fields and most individuals frequented drainage ditches containing water, particularly in late summer. Though frogs did not breed in ditches, their survival rate in ditches was high (88%). Ditches did not hinder frog movements, as frogs moved independently of the current. Results indicate that drainage ditches containing water enable some movements between habitats isolated by peat mining, in contrast to peat surfaces, and suggest they function as amphibian movement corridors. Thus, such drainage ditches may mitigate the effects of peat extraction on amphibian populations. At the very least, these structures provide an alternative to hostile peat surfaces. This study highlights that small-scale corridors are potentially valuable in population dynamics. ?? Springer 2005.
Additional publication details
Drainage ditches facilitate frog movements in a hostile landscape