Habitat fragmentation is a primary threat to amphibians worldwide, and new research suggests one of the reasons why. Experimental evidence for three species shows that fragmentation may hinder the dispersal of juvenile amphibians, which could contribute to population declines.
"Habitat fragmentation is likely to reduce dispersal rates between local populations of these three species," say Betsie Rothermel and Raymond Semlitsch of the University of Missouri in Columbia in the October issue of Conservation Biology.
Dispersal of juvenile amphibians is critical to maintaining populations of pond-breeding species. Local populations of these amphibians naturally die out frequently but are replenished by juveniles from other ponds (adults rarely switch breeding sites). "Interpond dispersal is the means by which declining populations may be rescued or recolonized following extinction," say the researchers. However, little is known about how habitat disturbance affects the dispersal of juvenile amphibians.
Betsie Rothermel | EurekAlert!
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