Assessing the effectiveness and values of wetland habitat created for amphibians in the Nantahala National Forest in NC

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jessica Rae Duke (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Joseph Pechmann

Abstract: Amphibians have been declining rapidly in recent years due to many factors. One of the largest threats comes from alteration and destruction of both terrestrial and aquatic habitat. The U.S. Forest Service has been creating and restoring wetland habitat across the United States including the creation of 60 vernal ponds in Western North Carolina. These NC ponds were created to increase breeding habitat for amphibians and help curb further population declines. I visited 50 of the ponds in 2013 to determine if they have been successful at providing amphibian breeding habitat. Only 25 of the 50 ponds held water during the first visit in early spring. I revisited these 25 ponds three more times to examine amphibian presence and diversity, aquatic vegetation presence and diversity, and environmental factors including hydroperiod, canopy closure, and water temperature. Terrestrial habitat surrounding all ponds was dominated by second growth hardwood forests. Ten pond-breeding amphibians were observed at one or more ponds. Amphibian species richness increased with pond hydroperiod. The abundance of Pseudacris crucifer (Spring Peeper) increased with plant species richness and slope and decreased with pond canopy closure and distance to the nearest pond. The abundance of Rana clamitans (Green Frog) increased with increased pond hydroperiod. The abundance of Anaxyrus americanus (American Toad) decreased with slope and plant species richness. Future ponds should be created to have longer hydroperiods (but not permanent water) to increase amphibian species richness. The abundance of particular species may be influenced by manipulating other factors, including plant species richness and pond canopy openness.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Amphibians, Conservation, Ecology, Management, Restoration, Wetland
Amphibians -- Habitat -- North Carolina -- Nantahala National Forest -- Evaluation
Wetland ecology -- North Carolina -- Nantahala National Forest
Ecosystem management -- North Carolina -- Nantahala National Forest

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