Agricultural impacts on amphibian survival, growth, and distributions Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/gb19f831d

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  • The potential impact of chemical contaminants and conservation practices on amphibians in agricultural landscapes is a key research topic globally. Amphibians represent a common group in many freshwater systems and are currently experiencing worldwide population declines. Global amphibian declines may be attributed to a number of causes, including habitat loss, introduced species, global climate change, disease, and chemical contaminants; most species declines are not a function of only one factor, but a result of interacting factors and synergistic impacts. I analyzed the impact of field conservation efforts employed in the Calapooia watershed, located in the central Willamette Valley in Oregon, on amphibian species diversity using Simpson's Diversity Index. In the Calapooia watershed the value of this index increased when conservation efforts, such as retaining crop residue and riparian buffers, were present. This suggests that species diversity increased with increased conservation effort at the field level. In addition, I found species-specific habitat associations in the Calapooia watershed. Long-toed salamanders (Ambystoma macrodactylum) were associated with stream channel cover. Rough-skinned newts (Taricha granulosa) and Red-legged frogs (Rana aurora) showed similar relationships to pH, bank width, depth, and riparian habitat where as Pacific treefrogs (Pseudacris regilla) showed strong relationships to increased structural heterogeneity, increased distance to nearest agricultural field, and increased human disturbance. These results indicate that conservation efforts can impact amphibian biodiversity, and that there are species-specific habitat associations in the Calapooia watershed. My third chapter looked at pesticides and fertilizers, which have been shown to negatively affect many species of amphibians. I used meta-analytic techniques to quantify the lethal and sub-lethal effects of pesticides and fertilizers on amphibians in an effort to review the published work to date. I found that, in general, pesticides and fertilizers negatively affect amphibians by reducing both survival and growth. Pesticide and fertilizer chemical classes showed differences in their impacts on amphibians: inorganic fertilizers, organophosphates, phosphonoglycines, and triazines negatively affected amphibian survival, while, organophosphates and triazines negatively affected amphibian growth.
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