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The effect of aquatic and terrestrial habitat characteristics on occurrence and breeding probability in a montane amphibian: insights from a spatially explicit multistate occupancy model


Băncilă, Raluca Ioana; Cogălniceanu, Dan; Ozgul, Arpat; Schmidt, Benedikt R (2017). The effect of aquatic and terrestrial habitat characteristics on occurrence and breeding probability in a montane amphibian: insights from a spatially explicit multistate occupancy model. Population Ecology, 59(1):71-78.

Abstract

Understanding species distribution and predicting range shifts are major goals of ecology and biogeography. Obtaining reliable predictions of how species distribution might change in response to habitat change requires knowledge of habitat availability, occupancy, use for breeding, and spatial autocorrelation in these parameters. Amphibians in alpine areas provide an excellent model system for disentangling habitat drivers of occupancy from that of breeding while explicitly accounting for spatial autocorrelation. We focused on the widespread common frog (Rana temporaria) inhabiting alpine lakes in the Southern Carpathians, Romania. We used single season multistate occupancy models developed to account for imperfect detection and spatial autocorrelation to estimate the occupancy and breeding probabilities and to evaluate their response to habitat characteristics. We found that frogs do not occur in all water bodies [occupancy probability: 0.697; 95% credible interval (0.614, 0.729)] and do not breed in a substantial proportion of water bodies where they occur [breeding probability conditional on occupancy: 0.707; 95% credible interval (0.670, 0.729)]. Habitat characteristics explain water body occupancy but not breeding probability; and altitude, water body surface area, water body sinuosity and permanency, presence of invertebrates, and grazing along the banks all had positive effects on occupancy. We also detected strong spatial autocorrelation in occupancy and breeding probabilities. Thus, our results indicate that habitat choice by montane amphibians is influenced by both spatial autocorrelation and habitat characteristics. Because spatial autocorrelations matter and because the presence of adults is not the same as the presence of a reproducing population, it will be difficult to predict the effects of habitat change on high altitude amphibian populations.

Abstract

Understanding species distribution and predicting range shifts are major goals of ecology and biogeography. Obtaining reliable predictions of how species distribution might change in response to habitat change requires knowledge of habitat availability, occupancy, use for breeding, and spatial autocorrelation in these parameters. Amphibians in alpine areas provide an excellent model system for disentangling habitat drivers of occupancy from that of breeding while explicitly accounting for spatial autocorrelation. We focused on the widespread common frog (Rana temporaria) inhabiting alpine lakes in the Southern Carpathians, Romania. We used single season multistate occupancy models developed to account for imperfect detection and spatial autocorrelation to estimate the occupancy and breeding probabilities and to evaluate their response to habitat characteristics. We found that frogs do not occur in all water bodies [occupancy probability: 0.697; 95% credible interval (0.614, 0.729)] and do not breed in a substantial proportion of water bodies where they occur [breeding probability conditional on occupancy: 0.707; 95% credible interval (0.670, 0.729)]. Habitat characteristics explain water body occupancy but not breeding probability; and altitude, water body surface area, water body sinuosity and permanency, presence of invertebrates, and grazing along the banks all had positive effects on occupancy. We also detected strong spatial autocorrelation in occupancy and breeding probabilities. Thus, our results indicate that habitat choice by montane amphibians is influenced by both spatial autocorrelation and habitat characteristics. Because spatial autocorrelations matter and because the presence of adults is not the same as the presence of a reproducing population, it will be difficult to predict the effects of habitat change on high altitude amphibian populations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:amphibian, habitat, distribution, spatial, multistate occupancy model, alpine
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:05 Apr 2017 06:11
Last Modified:05 Apr 2017 06:11
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1438-3896
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-017-0575-4

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