1. Habitat loss is a major driver of biodiversity decline worldwide. Temporary water bodies are especially vulnerable because they are sensitive both to human impact and to climatic variations. Pond-breeding amphibians are often dependent on temporary water bodies fortheir reproduction, and hence are sensitive to loss of temporary ponds.
2. Here we present the results of a 5-year study regarding the use of temporary aquatic habitats by amphibians in a hydrologically modified area of Eastern Europe (Romania).The annual number of aquatic habitats varied between 30 and 120. Each aquatic habitat was characterised by a number of variables such as: ‘type’ (pond, drainage ditch and archaeological ditch), ‘hydroperiod’ (number of weeks the ponds were filled in a given year), ‘depth’ (cm), ‘area’ (m2) and the density of predatory insects (‘predation’). The turnover rate for each amphibian species for each wetland was calculated based on the pond occupancy.
3. Eight amphibian species were recorded from the aquatic habitats. Hydroperiod was the most important variable, positively influencing wetland use by amphibians and their reproductive success. Most species preferred drainage ditches for reproduction, and the reproductive success was highest in this habitat type every year. For most of the species, the local extinction rate was higher than the colonisation rate in the first 4 years, but the situation reversed in the last year of the study when wetland use by amphibians sharply increased because of high rainfall.
4. This study confirms the importance for amphibians of maintaining and managing aquatic habitat diversity at small spatial scales. Man-made aquatic habitats such as drainage ditches may be important habitats for amphibians, and this should be considered in restoration activities.