Predicting effects of climate change on amphibian communities from prairie pothole wetlands
Lucinda B. Johnson1, Glenn Guntenspergen2, Jennifer H. Olker1, R. Carter Johnson3, and Patrick Schoff1. (1) Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth, 5013 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth, MN 55811, (2) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Laurel, MD 20708, (3) Biology, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
The Prairie Pothole Region is an important agricultural landscape interspersed with millions of depressional wetlands providing habitat for amphibians. Changes in land use and/or climate of this landscape can have significant impacts on amphibian communities. We examine the potential impacts of wetland loss on N. leopard frog population viability under two temperature and moisture regimes. A wetland model (WETLANDSCAPE) was used to simulate the impacts of climate change on two main drivers of biodiversity across the PPR: the cover cycle of semi-permanent wetlands and the hydrological conditions of wetland complexes. We combined this modeling approach with extensive wetland field surveys of amphibian communities to predict the range of responses expected across this region. Loss of wetlands in the western PPR and changes in their hydrologic regime are predicted to result in loss of some amphibian species, with a resulting east-ward shift of favorable wetland habitat to a region where most wetlands have been drained for agricultural production. The eastern PPR is dominated by crops and wetlands these are likely subjected to fertilizer and pesticide loads, compounding the potential impacts. Our modeling approach can be used to develop strategies that sustain amphibian populations in the face of changing climate.