Multi-year data from satellite- and ground-based sensors show details and scale matter in assessing climate’s effects on wetland surface water, amphibians, and landscape conditions

PLoS ONE
By: , and 

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Abstract

Long-term, interdisciplinary studies of relations between climate and ecological conditions on wetland-upland landscapes have been lacking, especially studies integrated across scales meaningful for adaptive resource management. We collected data in situ at individual wetlands, and via satellite for surrounding 4-km2 landscape blocks, to assess relations between annual weather dynamics, snow duration, phenology, wetland surface-water availability, amphibian presence and calling activity, greenness, and evapotranspiration in four U.S. conservation areas from 2008 to 2012. Amid recent decades of relatively warm growing seasons, 2012 and 2010 were the first and second warmest seasons, respectively, dating back to 1895. Accordingly, we observed the earliest starts of springtime biological activity during those two years. In all years, early-season amphibians first called soon after daily mean air temperatures were ≥ 0°C and snow had mostly melted. Similarly, satellite-based indicators suggested seasonal leaf-out happened soon after snowmelt and temperature thresholds for plant growth had occurred. Daily fluctuations in weather and water levels were related to amphibian calling activity, including decoupling the timing of the onset of calling at the start of season from the onset of calling events later in the season. Within-season variation in temperature and precipitation also was related to vegetation greenness and evapotranspiration, but more at monthly and seasonal scales. Wetland water levels were moderately to strongly associated with precipitation and early or intermittent wetland drying likely reduced amphibian reproduction success in some years, even though Pseudacris crucifer occupied sites at consistently high levels. Notably, satellite-based indicators of landscape water availability did not suggest such consequential, intra-seasonal variability in wetland surface-water availability. Our cross-disciplinary data show how temperature and precipitation interacted to affect key ecological relations and outcomes on our study landscapes. These results demonstrate the value of multi-year studies and the importance of scale for understanding actual climate-related effects in these areas.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Multi-year data from satellite- and ground-based sensors show details and scale matter in assessing climate’s effects on wetland surface water, amphibians, and landscape conditions
Series title PLoS ONE
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0201951
Volume 13
Issue 9
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher PLOS
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description e0201951
First page 1
Last page 60
Country United States
Other Geospatial North Temperate Lake LTER area, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Mississippi River