Thursday, 29 January 2015

Too wet for frogs: changes in a tropical leaf litter community coincide with La Niña - via Herp Digest


Ecosphere Volume 6, Issue 1, Art4 (January 2015).

Mason J Ryan1, Norman J Scott1, Joseph A Cook1, Beatriz Willink2, Gerardo Chaves3, Federico Bolaños3, Adrián García-Rodríguez4, Ian M Latella1, and Sally E Koerner5
 
1Department of Biology and Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, MSC03-2020,
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131 USA
2Department of Biology, Lund University, SE-223 62, Lund, Sweden
3Escuela de Biología, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, San Jose´ 2060 Costa Rica
4Departamento de Botanica, Ecologia e Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte,
59020-100 Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
5Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523 USA
Corresponding author: Mason J Ryan: mjryan42@gmail.com

Abstract
Extreme climatic events such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation profoundly affect many plants and animals, including amphibians, which are strongly negatively affected by drought conditions. How amphibians respond to exceptionally high precipitation as observed in La Niña events, however, remains unclear. We document correlation between the exceedingly wet 2010-2012 La Niña and community-level change in a leaf litter frog assemblage in Costa Rica. Relative abundances of species shifted, diversity and plot occupancy decreased, and community composition differed and homogenized with the onset of La Niña. These aspects remained altered for over 20-months but rebounded to pre-La Niña levels after approximately 12-months. We hypothesize that complex ecological cascades associated with excess moisture caused short-term declines in abundances of species and associated changes in community structure. If additional stressors such as disease or habitat loss are not co-occurring, frog communities can rapidly recover to pre-disturbance levels following severe climatic events.

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