Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Amphibians in a vice: Climate change robs frogs, salamanders of refuge

Date:
May 1, 2014
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Amphibians in the West's high-mountain areas find themselves caught between climate-induced habitat loss and predation from introduced fish. A novel combination of tools could help weigh where amphibians are in the most need of help.

Cascades frogs, found only at high elevations in three states, will face a hard future where trout dominate high mountain lakes and climate change dries up many of the shallower waterways such amphibians have been using.
Credit: M Ryan/U of Washington

By hightailing it to nearby ponds and shallow waterways, frogs and salamanders have -- until now -- had a way to evade exotic trout introduced to the West's high-mountain lakes for recreational fishing.

A warming climate, however, will dry up some of the places where amphibians and their young have found refuge. Researchers in the May 1 issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment write about this challenge and a novel combination of tools that could help land managers, biologists, fishing enthusiasts and other citizens weigh where amphibians are in the most need of help and guide plans for possible fish removals from selected lakes.

"Amphibians in the West's high-mountain areas find themselves in a vice, caught between climate-induced habitat loss and predation from introduced fish," said Maureen Ryan, a University of Washington postdoctoral researcher in environmental and forest sciences, a Simon Fraser University research associate and lead author of the paper.

Among the tools that could prove useful is a hydrologic model, currently used to project river flows, that can be applied to wetlands as a way to evaluate the effects of projected climate change. New remote-sensing techniques, using what's called object-based image analysis, allow managers to use existing aerial and satellite imagery to map wetlands in remote and previously un-surveyed regions.

Along with biological survey data these tools "can be used to identify regions where native wetland animals are most at risk of the combined effects of climate change and fish. In these regions, fish removal from strategic sites can be used to restore resilience to a landscape where inaction might lead to tipping points of species loss," writes Ryan and her co-authors Wendy Palen of Simon Fraser University, Michael Adams of the U.S. Geological Survey and Regina Rochefort of the North Cascades National Park.

The work was funded by the Department of the Interior's Northwest Climate Science Center, the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Northwest Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

In some parts of the West, programs of fish removal are already in place. Jack Oelfke, a manager at North Cascades National Park in Washington state says he watched long-toed salamanders, northwestern salamanders and tailed frogs return to lakes that his crews cleared of introduced trout. Fish stocking was halted in the park in 2007 after the park and Washington state completed an extensive environmental impact statement. The park began trout removal at eight lakes in 2009.

When considering removing fish, Ryan said human uses such as fishing are a part of the discussion. For the North Cascades National Park, for example, several high-lakes fisheries groups were involved.

"People often ask me what we can do about amphibian declines," said co-author Adams. "Fish removal is something that we know will help, but is hard to do and not always popular, so we need to be smart about it. This project provides a tool that can help target fish removal to places where it will do the most good for amphibians."

In some places, if a lake is no longer artificially stocked with fish, the trout will naturally disappear. Non-native fish also can be removed using a variety of techniques including gill nets or piscicides like the organic compound rotenone, which is extracted from plants.

As glaciers receded at the end of the last ice age they left behind thousands of isolated high mountain lakes and ponds devoid of fish. The bodies of water range in size from many acres, large enough to sail a boat on is how Ryan describes them, to ones smaller than your living room.

For centuries frogs, salamanders and other aquatic species flourished in these high elevation habitats where food was plentiful and their eggs and young were relatively safe from predators. In the late 1800s things started to change when trout were brought to mountain lakes and ponds in the American West by settlers looking for recreational fishing opportunities. Stocking intensified after World War II with millions of fish being dropped from aircraft by agency wildlife managers. Today 95 percent of the large mountain lakes have trout.

At risk are species such as the Cascades frog. Found only at high elevations in Washington, Oregon and California, Cascades frogs can live for 20 or more years, can survive under 30 feet of snow and, during the mating season, the males make chuckling sounds.

"We hope newly developed wetland modeling tools can improve climate adaptation action plans so ecosystems can maintain their resilience in the face of a changing climate," Ryan said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Sandra Hines and Lisa Hayward. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maureen E Ryan, Wendy J Palen, Michael J Adams, Regina M Rochefort. Amphibians in the climate vise: loss and restoration of resilience of montane wetland ecosystems in the western US. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2014; 12 (4): 232 DOI: 10.1890/130145

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Amphibians in a vice: Climate change robs frogs, salamanders of refuge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501100920.htm>.
University of Washington. (2014, May 1). Amphibians in a vice: Climate change robs frogs, salamanders of refuge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501100920.htm
University of Washington. "Amphibians in a vice: Climate change robs frogs, salamanders of refuge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140501100920.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

How to Make Single Serving Smoothies: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 24, 2014) Smoothies are a great way to get in lots of healthy ingredients, plus they taste great! Howdini has a trick for making the perfect single-size smoothie that will save you time on cleanup too! All you need is a blender and a mason jar. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins