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Evaluation of seven aquatic sampling methods for amphibians and other aquatic fauna

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image of Applied Herpetology

To design effective and efficient research and monitoring programs researchers must have a thorough understanding of the capabilities and limitations of their sampling methods. Few direct comparative studies exist for aquatic sampling methods for amphibians. The objective of this study was to simultaneously employ seven aquatic sampling methods in 10 wetlands to compare amphibian species richness and number of individuals detected with each method. Four sampling methods allowed counts of individuals (metal dipnet, D-frame dipnet, box trap, crayfish trap), whereas the other three methods allowed detection of species (visual encounter, aural, and froglogger). Amphibian species richness was greatest with froglogger, box trap, and aural samples. For anuran species, the sampling methods by which each life stage was detected was related to relative length of larval and breeding periods and tadpole size. Detection probability of amphibians varied across sampling methods. Box trap sampling resulted in the most precise amphibian count, but the precision of all four count-based methods was low (coefficient of variation > 145 for all methods). The efficacy of the four count sampling methods at sampling fish and aquatic invertebrates was also analyzed because these predatory taxa are known to be important predictors of amphibian habitat distribution. Species richness and counts were similar for fish with the four methods, whereas invertebrate species richness and counts were greatest in box traps. An effective wetland amphibian monitoring program in the southeastern United States should include multiple sampling methods to obtain the most accurate assessment of species community composition at each site. The combined use of frogloggers, crayfish traps, and dipnets may be the most efficient and effective amphibian monitoring protocol.

Affiliations: 1: United States Geological Survey, Florida Integrated Science Center, 7920 NW 71st Street, Gainesville, FL 32653-3701, USA; Nokuse Plantation, 13292 County Highway 3280, Bruce, FL 32455, USA


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