SREL Reprint #1844

 

 

 

 

PUTTING DECLINING AMPHIBIAN POPULATIONS IN PERSPECTIVE: NATURAL FLUCTUATIONS AND HUMAN IMPACTS

JOSEPH H. K. PECHMANN1,2 AND HENRY M. WILBUR3

1Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, The University of Georgia, P.O. Drawer E, Aiken, SC 29802, USA
2Department of Zoology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706, USA
3Department of Biology and Mountain Lake Biological Station, The University of Virginia, Gilmer Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903-2477, USA

ABSTRACT: Human impacts obviously have reduced or eliminated many populations of amphibians and other organisms. Recent reports, however, have suggested that declines and disappearances of amphibian populations over the last two decades represent a distinct phenomenon that goes beyond this general biodiversity crisis. We review the literature on natural temporal and spatial variation in population sizes and examine techniques for analyzing trends in abundance. Whether the recent declines and extinctions of isolated, protected amphibian populations exceed expected natural fluctuations remains equivocal. The suggestion that amphibians are particularly sensitive bioindicators of anthropogenic stresses has not received adequate study, and to our knowledge, no evidence has been presented to substantiate it. Although concern about the status of amphibian populations is clearly warranted, formulation of appropriate null hypotheses and further study are needed.

Key words: Amphibian; Population decline; Extinction; Temporal variation; Metapopulation; Biodiversity; Rheobatrachus; Taudactylus; Bufo periglenes; Rana pipiens

SREL Reprint #1844

Pechmann, J.H.K. and H.M. Wilbur. 1994. Putting declining amphibian populations in perspective: natural fluctuations and human impacts. Herpetologica 50:65-84.

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