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Comparative Effects of Ambient Ultraviolet-B Radiation on Two Sympatric Species of Australian Frogs

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Declines have been observed in a number of Australian frog species, many of these at high elevations. Alpine regions in Australia are likely to be particularly subject to increases in ultraviolet-B radiation ( UV-B, 280–320 nm) because UV-B levels increase with elevation and because anthropogenic depletion of ozone has been particularly severe in the southern hemisphere. We compared survivorship of embryos and tadpoles of a declining species of frog, Litoria verreauxii alpina, with those of a sympatric nondeclining species, Crinia signifera, under three ambient UV-B treatments, unshielded, control, and UV-B–excluding. Experiments were conducted in artificial water bodies established at three different elevations (1365, 1600, and 1930 m) in the Snowy Mountains of southeastern Australia. The exclusion of UV-B significantly enhanced survival of L. v. alpina (declining species) at all elevations. Overall, the probability of dying was highest in the unshielded treatments and lowest under the UV-B–excluding treatment for both species over all elevations. The probability of dying was significantly higher in L. v. alpina than in C. signifera for a given UV-B treatment at the two highest elevations. Our results support the hypothesis that ultraviolet radiation is likely to be a contributing factor in the disappearance of L. v. alpina at high elevations in southern Australia.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, 2006, Australia, 2: Applied Ecology Research Group, University of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 2601, Australia 3: Statistical Consulting Unit, Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory, 0200, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2000

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