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Conversion of landscapes for human uses is widely associated with loss of biodiversity. Here we focus on limits to distribution defined by intensity of landscape development. Using a translocation experiment, we ask does degradation of wetland habitat contribute to species loss? Wood frog larvae (Rana sylvatica = Lithobates sylvaticus), were reared within enclosures in 7 ponds harboring populations of wood frogs and in 5 ponds where they are absent. Survival, growth rate, and development rate were equivalent between ‘present’ and ‘absent’ ponds. While it is clear that landscapes surrounding ‘absent’ ponds had been heavily influenced by human use, we find no evidence that such wetlands provide inferior habitat for wood frog recruitment. Their absence in human altered landscapes may stem from influences outside of pond basins. The results provide a caution to the typically unexamined presumption that relictual habitats in developed landscapes are degraded in their utility for wildlife.
This preprint has been submitted to PLOS ONE for review.
Table S1. Data from 12 ponds included in a translocation experiment to explore performance of an amphibian
Ponds were either occupied by wood frogs (Present) or not (Absent). For each pond the proportion of the landscape developed within 200 m of the shoreline is given. Three ponds dried before the conclusion of the experiment. For the remainder, final survival, Gosner developmental stage and body mass (g) responses are presented.