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Full Access A landscape-level study on the breeding site characteristics of ten amphibian species in Central Europe

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A landscape-level study on the breeding site characteristics of ten amphibian species in Central Europe

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Temporary ponds are characterized as being in natural or close to natural states in Central and Eastern Europe, especially those located in forested landscapes. As these ponds function as breeding sites for many amphibians, they represent an ideal target to explore the terrestrial and aquatic habitat preferences of different species. We surveyed 133 small ponds in a forested, hilly region of North-Central Hungary. The occurrence of ten amphibian species and amphibian species richness were compared to six pond-related habitat variables and the extent of four terrestrial habitat types in the area surrounding the ponds. Our results suggest that most species’ occurrence and species richness are chiefly related to pond characteristics, although terrestrial habitat variables could also be a determining factor in particular species. Whereas the majority of amphibian species prefer larger, hence more permanent water bodies with abundant aquatic vegetation, the common frog (Rana temporaria) chooses small, shallow wallow pits for breeding and has special requirements concerning terrestrial habitat composition. This could explain its restricted distribution in the area. Our results suggest that maintaining a diverse set of ponds and forestry management which facilitates habitats’ structural heterogeneity are both important factors for the preservation of the rich amphibian fauna in Central Europe.

Affiliations: 1: 1Behavioural Ecology Group, Department of Systematic Zoology and Ecology, Eötvös Loránd University, Pázmány Péter sétány 1 C, 1117 Budapest, Hungary; 2: 7Environmental Sciences and Policy Department, Central European University, Nádor u. 9, Budapest 1051, Hungary

Temporary ponds are characterized as being in natural or close to natural states in Central and Eastern Europe, especially those located in forested landscapes. As these ponds function as breeding sites for many amphibians, they represent an ideal target to explore the terrestrial and aquatic habitat preferences of different species. We surveyed 133 small ponds in a forested, hilly region of North-Central Hungary. The occurrence of ten amphibian species and amphibian species richness were compared to six pond-related habitat variables and the extent of four terrestrial habitat types in the area surrounding the ponds. Our results suggest that most species’ occurrence and species richness are chiefly related to pond characteristics, although terrestrial habitat variables could also be a determining factor in particular species. Whereas the majority of amphibian species prefer larger, hence more permanent water bodies with abundant aquatic vegetation, the common frog (Rana temporaria) chooses small, shallow wallow pits for breeding and has special requirements concerning terrestrial habitat composition. This could explain its restricted distribution in the area. Our results suggest that maintaining a diverse set of ponds and forestry management which facilitates habitats’ structural heterogeneity are both important factors for the preservation of the rich amphibian fauna in Central Europe.

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/content/journals/10.1163/15685381-00002869
2013-01-01
2016-12-05

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