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Hatching success in salamanders and chorus frogs at two sites in Colorado, USA: effects of acidic deposition and climate

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The snowpack in the vicinity of the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area is among the most acidic in the western United States. We analyzed water chemistry and examined hatching success in tiger salamanders and chorus frogs at ponds there and at nearby Rabbit Ears Pass (Dumont) to determine whether acid deposition affects amphibians or their breeding habitats at these potentially sensitive locations. We found a wide range of acid neutralizing capacity among ponds within sites; the minimum pH recorded during the experiment was 5.4 at one of 12 ponds with all others at pH ≥ 5.7. At Dumont, hatching success for chorus frogs was greater in ponds with low acid neutralizing capacity; however, lowest pHs were > 5.8. At current levels of acid deposition, weather and pond characteristics are likely more important than acidity in influencing hatching success in amphibian larvae at these sites.


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