The Ribbit-ing World of Wood Frogs: Characteristics of Ephemeral Wetlands And Their Impacts on Rana sylvatica Larval Development

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Dave Skelly
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The wood frog (Rana sylvatica) is one of the most broadly distributed nonflying vertebrates in North America. Within its range, it occupies a wide variety of freshwater breeding habitats. A long-term dataset revealed strong patterns in occupancy and abundance of wood frogs across a set of 60 ephemeral wetlands at Yale Myers Forest. In this study, I evaluated wetland attributes to better understand what factors support development to metamorphosis. I used linear models created in R to predict development rate and wood frog egg mass density at each pond. Egg mass density was inversely related to pond surface area and pH and was directly associated with leaf composition. Development rate was higher in ponds with greater salinity and more open canopy ponds, and it was lower in ponds with higher pH. Development rate also varied with leaf composition, tending to be higher in the presence of grasses and forbs. These results are important for conservation and management because they suggest that even small wetlands can be important and because differences in wetland attributes can affect wildlife survival.