Conservation Biology

A Concentric Analysis of the Impact of Urbanization on the Threatened European Tree Frog in an Agricultural Landscape

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Courtesy of Conservation Biology

Abstract: Pond-breeding amphibians are affected by site-specific factors and regional and landscape-scale patterns of land use. Recent anthropogenic landscape modifications (drainage, agriculture intensification, larger road networks, and increased traffic) affect species by reducing the suitable habitat area and fragmenting remaining populations. Using a robust concentric approach based on permutation tests, we evaluated the impact of recent landscape changes on the presence of the endangered European tree frog (Hyla arborea) in wetlands. We analyzed the frequency of 1 traffic and 14 land-use indices at 20 circular ranges (from 100-m up to 2-km radii) around 76 ponds identified in western Switzerland. Urban areas and road surfaces had a strong adverse effect on tree frog presence even at relatively great distances (from 100 m up to 1 km). When traffic measurements were considered instead of road surfaces, the effect increased, suggesting a negative impact due to a vehicle-induced effect. Altogether, our results indicate that urbanization and traffic must be taken into account when pond creation is an option in conservation management plans, as is the case for the European tree frog in western Switzerland. We conclude that our easy-to-use and robust concentric method of analysis can successfully assist managers in identifying potential sites for pond creation, where probability of the presence of tree frogs is maximized.

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