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The declining spadefoot toad Pelobates fuscus: calling site choice and conservation

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We investigated whether local biotic and abiotic conditions could explain the occurrence of calling males of the declining spadefoot toad Pelobates fuscus in 72 ponds in southern Sweden. The ponds covered the entire distribution range of P. fuscus and were monitored during the breeding season in 2000. Calling males were found in 33 ponds, representing ca 50% of all known ponds for the species in Sweden. They had a non-random distribution and a discriminant analysis including 19 environmental variables successfully classified 86% of the ponds as with or without calling males. A stepwise discriminant analysis selected eight of these variables and classified 85% of the ponds correctly. Ponds with calling males were classified mainly on characteristics of the ponds, whereas composition of the terrestrial habitat close to the ponds and traffic load within 500 m had little influence on the distribution of calling males. Ponds with P. fuscus were large, permanent and eutrophic with high concentrations of oxygen and high spring temperatures. They also had a high proportion of shoreline with steep banks. Permanent ponds with calling males typically had a low abundance of predatory fish and crayfish; only two of the ponds with P. fuscus contained predatory fish. The results of this study indicate that interactions between physical factors (e.g. pond drying) and predation determine the presence of P. fuscus. Because P. fuscus has specific habitat requirements necessary for its survival and high site fidelity, it is particularly vulnerable to local changes in the condition of its natural breeding ponds. The situation is particularly serious for this species because the majority of the ponds that are within its dispersal range do not seem to be suitable for P. fuscus because of physical constraints.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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