Although human-modified habitats often result in a loss of biodiversity, some have been found to serve as habitat refuges for threatened species. Given the globally declining status of amphibians, understanding why some species are found in heavily modified environments is of considerable interest. We used the endangered green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea) as a model to investigate the factors influencing their distribution toward industrial areas within a landscape. The number of permanent waterbodies within a kilometer of surveyed sites was the best predictor of L. aurea occupancy, abundance and reproduction. It appears that industrial activities, such as dredging and waste disposal inadvertently created refuge habitat for L. aurea to fortuitously persist in a heavily modified landscape. Future conservation plans should mimic the positive effects of industrialization, such as increasing the number of permanent waterbodies, especially in areas containing ephemeral or isolated waterbodies and threatened with drought. Our findings also suggest that despite amphibians being relatively small animals, some species may require a larger landscape than anticipated. Recognizing life history traits, in combination with a landscape-based approach toward species with perceived limited motility, may result in more successful conservation outcomes. Identifying why threatened species persist in heavily disturbed landscapes, such as industrial sites, can provide direction toward future conservation efforts to prevent and reverse their decline.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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