Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Jumping in with Both Feet: Exploring Factors that Shape Juvenile Amphibian Movement Public Deposited

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  • Investigation into how animals move within the landscape is important for both understanding of ecological processes and conservation management. Animal movement is important in shaping life history transitions, demographics, individual fitness, and species distributions. However, as landscapes become increasingly affected by human activities, movement becomes important as species navigate landscapes experiencing habitat fragmentation, isolation, and degradation. To address how human activities are changing animal movement, there is a need to understand the movement patterns and behaviors of an animal during early life stages. Amphibian species often have bi-phasic life histories with aquatic larval tadpoles and terrestrial juveniles and adults. All dispersal between populations and across the landscape occurs during these terrestrial stages. In particular, the juvenile life stage is thought to be an important dispersal stage, but has been understudied in amphibian biology. In this dissertation, I performed several projects investigating the factors that shape juvenile movement and how aquatic conditions before metamorphosis may express latent effects on these behaviors. I also examined how these observed behaviors may affect the population connectivity in future climates. The movement behavior of juveniles was strongly influenced by the identity of the species, environmental conditions, and individual size. Aquatic environments expressed latent effects on juvenile amphibian size, but not directly on movement behavior. Terrestrial environmental conditions were also important with dry terrain and low ambient humidity associated with increased movement distances. Using an individual-based simulation model, the observed effect of environmental conditions on movement behavior also reduced population connectivity in future climate conditions, when compared to current climates. Movement ecology is a growing field, and through the application of various tools and techniques that are being developed we can fill in the gap of knowledge around amphibian terrestrial movement.
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  • Ongoing Research
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  • 2019-07-18 to 2020-08-19



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