Variation in the distribution and abundance of species across landscapes has traditionally been attributed to processes operating at fine spatial scales (i.e., environmental conditions at the scale of the sampling unit), but processes that operate across larger spatial scales such as seasonal migration or dispersal are also important. To determine the relative importance of these processes, we evaluated hypothesized relationships between the probability of occupancy in wetlands by two amphibians [wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) and boreal chorus frogs (Pseudacris maculata)] and attributes of the landscape measured at three spatial scales in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. We used cost-based buffers and least-cost distances to derive estimates of landscape attributes that may affect occupancy patterns from the broader spatial scales. The most highly ranked models provide strong support for a positive relationship between occupancy by breeding wood frogs and the amount of streamside habitat adjacent to a wetland. The model selection results for boreal chorus frogs are highly uncertain, though several of the most highly ranked models indicate a positive association between occupancy and the number of neighboring, occupied wetlands. We found little evidence that occupancy of either species was correlated with local-scale attributes measured at the scale of individual wetlands, suggesting that processes operating at broader scales may be more important in influencing occupancy patterns in amphibian populations.
Additional publication details
The importance of local and landscape-scale processes to the occupancy of wetlands by pond-breeding amphibians