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Scale and landscape perception: the case of refuge use by Boreal Toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas)

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Abstract:

Refugia likely represent a critical resource necessary for the persistence of populations of Boreal Toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas (Baird and Girard, 1852)) in a given area. However, the features that define suitable refuge microsites and the extent to which the habitat surrounding refugia is exploited remains unclear. We sought to describe refuge characteristics in the context of their surroundings and to determine whether local-scale movement behaviour associated with refuge use might provide a novel perspective of landscape-level habitat selection. A pilot study suggested that refugia were selected primarily for physical structure in the form of coarse woody debris, but this was not the case. Instead, refugia provided favourable microclimates with elevated relative humidity compared with the surrounding habitat. Boreal Toads tended to forage at night within 15 m from refugia. This distance was used to calculate activity centres across toad summer home ranges. Activity centres prioritized the importance of treeless habitat overall and wetland habitat for females when compared with 50% core home ranges. This approach could be used to pinpoint critical habitat at the landscape scale, which may be of particular importance for conserving populations currently in decline.

Keywords: Anaxyrus boreas boreas; Boreal Toad; crapaud boréal; déplacement à l’échelle locale; habitat selection; local-scale movement; microsites de refuge; refuge microsites; sélection d’habitat

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/z2012-069

Affiliations: Faculty of Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Canada.

Publication date: August 11, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Published since 1929, this monthly journal reports on primary research contributed by respected international scientists in the broad field of zoology, including behaviour, biochemistry and physiology, developmental biology, ecology, genetics, morphology and ultrastructure, parasitology and pathology, and systematics and evolution. It also invites experts to submit review articles on topics of current interest.
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