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Hydroperiod of temporary ponds threats amphibian recruitment in Mediterranean environments

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-06, 06:24 authored by Amalia Segura, Gemma Palomar

Climate change threatens amphibians because they depend on water availability. The amount of time that a pond is filled with water – the hydroperiod – may play an important role in larval development and recruitment. Nevertheless it is usually not taken into account when predicting future species trends. We evaluated the role of the hydroperiod in the abundance of five amphibian species in temporal ponds of a Moroccan forest during a seven-year period. Particularly, we characterized the ponds and compared the climatic variables affecting our system with the previous eight-year period. We tested the relationship between rainfall and hydroperiod, and we identified the best predictor of amphibian abundance. Our data showed that the last seven years were drier than the previous eight, being three of them so dry that none of the amphibian species bred successfully in those seasons. We demonstrated that hydroperiod was the best predictor of the abundance of amphibian species and affected the amphibian community composition. The rainfall was correlated with the hydroperiod and the number of ponds filled. Species with long larval periods such as the endangered Moroccan spadefoot toad and the sharp ribbed newt might be more vulnerable to climate change since they need longer hydroperiods to develop. However, widespread species with shorter hydroperiods such as the Mauretanian toad or the stripeless tree frog might be favoured. In order to predict accurately amphibian species trend under climate change scenarios and to develop adequate conservation strategies, hydroperiod should be considered in both the models and mitigation actions. 


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