Modeling habitat connectivity to inform reintroductions: a case study with the Chiricahua Leopard Frog

Journal of Herpetology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Managing species with intensive tools such as reintroduction may focus on single sites or entire landscapes. For vagile species, long-term persistence will require colonization and establishment in neighboring habitats. Therefore, both suitable colonization sites and suitable dispersal corridors between sites are required. Assessment of landscapes for both requirements can contribute to ranking and selection of reintroduction areas, thereby improving management success. Following eradication of invasive American Bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus) from most of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge (BANWR; Arizona, United States), larval Chiricahua Leopard Frogs (Lithobates chiricahuensis) from a private pond were reintroduced into three stock ponds. Populations became established at all three reintroduction sites followed by colonization of neighboring ponds in subsequent years. Our aim was to better understand colonization patterns by the federally threatened L. chiricahuensis which could help inform other reintroduction efforts. We assessed the influence of four landscape features on colonization. Using surveys from 2007 and information about the landscape, we developed a habitat connectivity model, based on electrical circuit theory, that identified potential dispersal corridors after explicitly accounting for imperfect detection of frogs. Landscape features provided little insight into why some sites were colonized and others were not, results that are likely because of the uniformity of the BANWR landscape. While corridor modeling may be effective in more-complex landscapes, our results suggest focusing on local habitat will be more useful at BANWR. We also illustrate that existing data, even when limited in spatial or temporal resolution, can provide information useful in formulating management actions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Modeling habitat connectivity to inform reintroductions: a case study with the Chiricahua Leopard Frog
Series title Journal of Herpetology
DOI 10.1670/14-172
Volume 50
Issue 1
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 63
Last page 69
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N