Variation in Surrounding Forest Habitat Influences the Initial Orientation of Juvenile Amphibians Emigrating from Breeding Ponds
Juvenile dispersal is important for the persistence of amphibian populations. Previous studies have observed nonrandom orientation in juvenile amphibians emigrating from breeding ponds; however, the environmental cues associated with these movements are not well understood. We examined the emigration behavior of recently metamorphosed juveniles of three pond-breeding amphibian species from three woodland ponds. We found that juvenile small-mouthed salamanders (Ambystoma texanum (Matthes, 1855)), American toads (Bufo americanus Holbrook, 1836), and wood frogs (Rana sylvatica LeConte, 1825) exhibited nonrandom orientation upon exiting the breeding ponds. Furthermore, we found a positive relationship between captures of juvenile small-mouthed salamanders and wood frogs and width of the surrounding forest habitat, indicating that these species are selecting areas with broader forested habitat upon exiting the breeding ponds. Our results indicate that migrating juvenile amphibians may rely on direct environmental cues because the orientation of small-mouthed salamanders and wood frogs was influenced by width of the surrounding forest habitat. These observations support previous studies suggesting that maintaining forest habitat, along at least a portion of breeding ponds, is important for the persistence of amphibian populations.
Walston, Leroy J. and Mullin, Stephen J., "Variation in Surrounding Forest Habitat Influences the Initial Orientation of Juvenile Amphibians Emigrating from Breeding Ponds" (2008). Faculty Publications. 103.