Urban Amphibians of the Texas Panhandle
Baseline Inventory and Habitat Associations in a Drought Year
Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation due to urbanization are implicated in amphibian declines worldwide. Conservation efforts require information on resident species and their habitat interactions, but amphibian ecology is largely unstudied in urban centers of the Southern High Plains. Here, we gathered baseline data on amphibian presence, species richness, and habitat preferences at site-specific and landscape scales during a severe drought year in the city of Lubbock, in northwestern Texas. Ephemeral playa wetlands are characteristic of this landscape. During urbanization, these have been extensively modifiied for stormwater drainage, agriculture, and construction of roads, buildings and neighborhoods. A semi-arid climate with frequent droughts, together with urbanization, could have an adverse effect on resident amphibians. In 2011, we sampled 23 urban lakes for amphibian presence, using a combination of audio, visual, and larval surveys. We detected five amphibian species at seven lakes; Texas Toads (Anaxyrus speciosus) and Spotted Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris clarkii) were the most frequently encountered species. We found significant negative effects of nearby road density on amphibian species presence and richness. We also detected significant negative effects of basic pH on amphibian species richness. These data can be used for prioritizing lakes for amphibian conservation strategies, to monitor ecosystem function in urban wetlands, and to guide future development and restoration efforts.
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