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Document Type

Yellowstone National Park Report

First Page

135

Last Page

144

Abstract

Declines and extinctions of many populations of amphibians have been noted worldwide in recent years (Corn and Fogelman 1984, Beiswenger 1986, McAllister and Leonard 1990, Wake and Morowitz 1990, Wake 1991, Adler 1992). Habitat modifications due to human activities may contribute to many of these declines. Habitat may be destroyed overtly, or it may be fragmented. Fragmentation results in reduced area, a differential loss of important habitat components, and increased isolation of populations (Wyman 1990). The persistence of amphibians in areas where modifications short of total habitat destruction depends on the preservation of essential habitat components and landscape connectivity that allows individual animals access to breeding, foraging, and wintering sites (Sinsch 1989). Long-term persistence also may rely on the immigration of individuals from other populations (Pechmann et al. 1991, Sjogren 1991). Although our efforts to conserve amphibian species depend on our understanding of habitat fragmentation and knowledge of the behavioral and population responses to different types of habitat modifications (Gibbons 1988, Groom and Schumaker 1993), few studies have addressed these types of questions for amphibians. Notable exceptions include some studies on the effects of logging (Corn and Bury 1989) and acidification (Wyman and Hawksley-Lescault 1988, Harte and Hoffman 1989, Corn and Vertucci 1992). In Europe, researchers and wildlife conservationists are investigating the impacts of roads on amphibians and attempting to find solutions to fragmentation and mortality effects (Langton 1989), but this concern has not yet received noticeable attention in North America. We lack studies evaluating the relative importance and integration of foraging areas, hibernacula, breeding sites, areas occupied pre- and post-breeding, and dispersal routes connecting these areas. With these kinds of information, researchers and land managers will be better able to analyze, predict, and mitigate the effects of habitat modifications that are sources of amphibian population declines.

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