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Evaluating the Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Source‐Sink Dynamics in Pond‐Breeding Amphibians

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Although interwetland dispersal is thought to play an important role in regional persistence of pond‐breeding amphibians, few researchers have modeled amphibian metapopulation or source‐sink dynamics. Results of recent modeling studies suggest anthropogenic stressors, such as pollution, can negatively affect density and population viability of amphibians breeding in isolated wetlands. Presumably population declines also result in reduced dispersal to surrounding (often uncontaminated) habitats, potentially affecting dynamics of nearby populations. We used our data on the effects of mercury (Hg) on the American toad ( Bufo americanus) as a case study in modeling the effects of anthropogenic stressors on landscape‐scale amphibian dynamics. We created a structured metapopulation model to investigate regional dynamics of American toads and to evaluate the degree to which detrimental effects of Hg contamination on individual populations can disrupt interpopulation dynamics. Dispersal from typical American toad populations supported nearby populations that would otherwise have been extirpated over long time scales. Through support of such sink populations, dispersal between wetland‐associated subpopulations substantially increased overall productivity of wetland networks, but this effect declined with increasing interwetland distance and decreasing wetland size. Contamination with Hg substantially reduced productivity of wetland‐associated subpopulations and impaired the ability of populations to support nearby sinks within relevant spatial scales. Our results add to the understanding of regional dynamics of pond‐breeding amphibians, the wide‐reaching negative effects of environmental contaminants, and the potential for restoration or remediation of degraded habitats.

Evaluación de los Efectos de Estresantes Antropogénicos sobre la Dinámica Fuente‐Vertedero en Anfibios que se Reproducen en Charcas
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Language: English

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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