Effects of landscape composition and wetland fragmentation on frog and toad abundance and species richness in Iowa and Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Melinda G. Knutson, John R. Sauer, Douglas A. Olsen, Michael J. Mossman, Lisa M. Hemesath, Michael J. Lannoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

224 Scopus citations


Management of amphibian populations to reverse recent declines will require defining high-quality habitat for individual species or groups of species, followed by efforts to retain or restore these habitats on the landscape. We examined landscape-level habitat relationships for frogs and toads by measuring associations between relative abundance and species richness based on survey data derived from anuran calls and features of land-cover maps for Iowa and Wisconsin. The most consistent result across all anuran guilds was a negative association with the presence of urban land. Upland and wetland forests and emergent wetlands tended to be positively associated with anurans. Landscape metrics that represent edges and patch diversity also had generally positive associations, indicating that anurans benefit from a complex of habitats that include wetlands. In Iowa the most significant associations with relative abundance were the length of the edge between wetland and forest (positive) and the presence of urban land (negative). In Wisconsin the two most significant associations with relative abundance were forest area and agricultural area (both positive). Anurans had positive associations with agriculture in Wisconsin but not in Iowa. Remnant forest patches in agricultural landscapes may be providing refuges for some anuran species. Differences in anuran associations with deep water and permanent wetlands between the two states suggest opportunities for management action. Large-scale maps can contribute to predictive models of amphibian habitat use, but water quality and vegetation information collected from individual wetlands will likely be needed to strengthen those predictions. Landscape habitat analyses provide a framework for future experimental and intensive research on specific factors affecting the health of anurans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1437-1446
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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