Stage-specific effects of fire: Effects of prescribed burning on adult abundance, oviposition habitat selection, and larval performance of Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
Publication date: 15 December 2018
Source: Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 430
Author(s): Logan A. McDonald, Kristine L. Grayson, Haley A. Lin, James R. Vonesh
To effectively manage landscapes that support species with complex life cycles, managers should consider how current practices affect habitats these organisms rely on in each life stage. Prescribed fire is a landscape level disturbance that may alter both aquatic and terrestrial habitat characteristics. However, our knowledge of the effects of fire on amphibians is primarily limited to adult responses in terrestrial habitats. Here we present an integrated approach to test the response of Cope’s Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) to fire across terrestrial and aquatic habitats by examining responses in tadpole performance and survivorship, adult abundance, and oviposition choice. In a common garden experiment, tadpoles reared with unburned leaf litter grew much faster those in pools with burned litter. To determine how fire in terrestrial and aquatic habitats acts to shape oviposition choice, we embedded aquatic mesocosms containing a substrate of either burned or unburned leaf litter within burned and unburned terrestrial plots. Observed oviposition was an order of magnitude higher in unburned terrestrial plots, regardless of the aquatic leaf litter treatment. This trend was not driven by differences in adult abundance in burned and unburned plots. Our findings are consistent with a scenario where adult treefrogs use terrestrial cues to preferentially breed in aquatic sites in unburned landscapes where tadpoles also experience greater growth. These insights highlight the value of adopting a multi-scale integrative approach that links stage and habitat specific effects on abundance, behavior, and performance to understanding the effects of anthropogenic and natural stressors on animal with complex life cycles.
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