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Assessing the impacts of the invasive frog, Xenopus laevis, on amphibians in western France

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As invasive species are one of the principal threats on global biodiversity, assessing their impact is a crucial element of conservation biology. Quantifying the possible impacts of an invasive population represents the first step in the establishment of efficient management plans. In this study, we applied a method of site-occupancy modeling to estimate the influence of an invasive frog, Xenopus laevis, on the amphibian species richness in western France. In our analyses we took into account habitat characteristics (i.e. the size and general shape of the ponds), the structure of the aquatic vegetation, the presence of other vertebrates, and the physicochemical parameters of the pond. Richness was negatively related to the abundance of X. laevis and to the time since colonization as estimated by the distance of the pond to the site of introduction. Habitat niche breadth of native amphibians did not differ between invaded and non-invaded areas. This might be a consequence of the homogeneity of the habitats selected for our study. The lack of heterogeneity in the abiotic factors, the absence of a correlation between species richness and these abiotic factors, and the correlation of the abundance and time since colonization by X. laevis with species richness suggest a negative effect of this species on local amphibians. This result highlights the importance of conservation and management plans aiming to limit the expansion of this invasive species.

Affiliations: 1: 1UMR 7179 C.N.R.S/M.N.H.N., Département d’Ecologie et de Gestion de la Biodiversité. 57 rue Cuvier, Case postale 55, 75231 Paris Cedex 5, France ; 2: 2Université de Lyon, UMR 5023 Écologie des Hydrosystèmes Naturels et Anthropisés, Université Lyon 1, ENTPE, CNRS, F - 69622 Villeurbanne, France ; 3: 3UMR 6554 LETG – LEESA, Université d’Angers. 2, boulevard Lavoisier, 49000 Angers, France ; 4: 4Association Objectifs Biodiversités. 22, rue du docteur Gilbert, 17250 Pont l’Abbé d’Arnoult ; 5: 5Ghent University, Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, B-9000 Gent, Belgium

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