Amphibian breeding phenology and reproductive outcome: an examination using terrestrial and aquatic sampling
Worldwide amphibian declines highlight the need for programs that monitor species presence and track population trends. We sampled larval amphibians with a box trap at 3-week intervals for 23 months in eight wetlands, and concurrently trapped adults and juveniles with drift fences, to examine spatiotemporal patterns of tadpole occurrence; explore relationships between breeding effort, tadpole abundance, and recruitment; and compare the efficacy of both methods in detecting species presence and reproductive outcome. Intermittent detection of species within and among wetlands suggested high mortality, followed by deposition of new eggs and tadpole cohorts. Breeding effort, tadpole abundance, and juvenile recruitment were generally not correlated. The reasons for this may include differential bias in detecting species or life stages between methods and high incidence of egg or tadpole mortality. Drift fences detected more species than box traps, but each provided insights regarding amphibian presence and recruitment. Our results illustrate shortfalls in the ability of infrequent aquatic sampling to detect local species richness of larval amphibians, as occurrence of many species is spatially and temporally variable. We also show the importance of using different sampling methods to detect species’ presence, as well as difficulties associated with both methods in tracking breeding effort, tadpole occurrence, or reproductive outcome.