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Terrestrial habitat preferences of the natterjack toad during and after the breeding season in a landscape of intensive agricultural activity

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

Nineteen adult toads equipped with transmitters were followed during and after the breeding period (January to September) in order to estimate their home range area and habitat use in a landscape of cereal agriculture. Median home range area was 0.5 ha (range 0.1-11 ha) during the breeding season (January-April). Home range areas increase during the post-breeding season (April-September) e.g., median minimum concave polygon of 4.1 ha. No relation between home range and toads' body size was observed. Six habitat types were described in the studied area. The proportion of habitats used (i.e. proportion of the pooled positions of 11 toads during the post-breeding season in each habitat) was significantly different from the proportion of available habitats: while crops represented 85% of the available habitat, only 43% of the toads' positions were recorded in this type of habitat. A compositional analysis of habitat preference was performed. At both landscape and individual home range levels, the toads preferred the stone embankments and ditches above all, while the crops were the least preferred habitat. This study highlights the role of habitat linkage and marginal habitats for the persistence of amphibian populations in intensive agricultural and arid landscapes.


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