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Helena, MT, United States

McCaffery R.M.,University of Montana | Eby L.A.,University of Montana | Maxell B.A.,Montana Natural Heritage Program | Corn P.S.,U.S. Geological Survey
Biological Conservation | Year: 2014

Environmental stochasticity can have profound effects on the dynamics and viability of wild populations, and habitat heterogeneity provides one mechanism by which populations may be buffered against the negative effects of environmental fluctuations. Heterogeneity in breeding pond hydroperiod across the landscape may allow amphibian populations to persist despite variable interannual precipitation. We examined recruitment dynamics over 10. yr in a high-elevation Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris) population that breeds in ponds with a variety of hydroperiods. We combined these data with matrix population models to quantify the consequences of heterogeneity in pond hydroperiod on net recruitment (i.e. number of metamorphs produced) and population growth rates. We compared our heterogeneous system to hypothetical homogeneous environments with (1) only ephemeral ponds, (2) only semi-permanent ponds, and (3) only permanent ponds. We also examined the effects of breeding pond habitat loss on population growth rates. Most eggs were laid in permanent ponds each year, but survival to metamorphosis was highest in the semi-permanent ponds. Recruitment success varied by both year and pond type. Net recruitment and stochastic population growth rate were highest under a scenario with homogeneous semi-permanent ponds, but variability in recruitment was lowest in the scenario with the observed heterogeneity in hydroperiods. Loss of pond habitat decreased population growth rate, with greater decreases associated with loss of permanent and semi-permanent habitat. The presence of a diversity of pond hydroperiods on the landscape will influence population dynamics, including reducing variability in recruitment in an uncertain climatic future. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Sugita S.,Tallinn University | Parshall T.,Westfield State College | Calcote R.,University of Minnesota | Walker K.,Montana Natural Heritage Program
Quaternary Research | Year: 2010

The Landscape Reconstruction Algorithm (LRA) overcomes some of the fundamental problems in pollen analysis for quantitative reconstruction of vegetation. LRA first uses the REVEALS model to estimate regional vegetation using pollen data from large sites and then the LOVE model to estimate vegetation composition within the relevant source area of pollen (RSAP) at small sites by subtracting the background pollen estimated from the regional vegetation composition. This study tests LRA using training data from forest hollows in northern Michigan (35 sites) and northwestern Wisconsin (43 sites). In northern Michigan, surface pollen from 152-ha and 332-ha lakes is used for REVEALS. Because of the lack of pollen data from large lakes in northwestern Wisconsin, we use pollen from 21 hollows randomly selected from the 43 sites for REVEALS. RSAP indirectly estimated by LRA is comparable to the expected value in each region. A regression analysis and permutation test validate that the LRA-based vegetation reconstruction is significantly more accurate than pollen percentages alone in both regions. Even though the site selection in northwestern Wisconsin is not ideal, the results are robust. The LRA is a significant step forward in quantitative reconstruction of vegetation. © 2010 University of Washington.

Pilliod D.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Arkle R.S.,U.S. Geological Survey | Maxell B.A.,Montana Natural Heritage Program
Biological Invasions | Year: 2013

Studies have demonstrated negative effects of non-native, predatory fishes on native amphibians, yet it is still unclear why some amphibian populations persist, while others are extirpated, following fish invasion. We examined this question by developing habitat-based occupancy models for the long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum) and non-native fish using survey data from 1,749 water bodies across 470 catchments in the Northern Rocky Mountains, USA. We first modeled the habitat associations of salamanders at 468 fishless water bodies in 154 catchments where non-native fish were historically, and are currently, absent from the entire catchment. We then applied this habitat model to the complete data set to predict the probability of salamander occupancy in each water body, removing any effect of fish presence. Finally, we compared field-observed occurrences of salamanders and fish to modeled probability of salamander occupancy. Suitability models indicated that fish and salamanders had similar habitat preferences, possibly resulting in extirpations of salamander populations from entire catchments where suitable habitats were limiting. Salamanders coexisted with non-native fish in some catchments by using marginal quality, isolated (no inlet or outlet) habitats that remained fishless. They rarely coexisted with fish within individual water bodies and only where habitat quality was highest. Connectivity of water bodies via streams resulted in increased probability of fish invasion and consequently reduced probability of salamander occupancy. These results could be used to identify and prioritize catchments and water bodies where control measures would be most effective at restoring amphibian populations. Our approach could be useful as a framework for improved investigations into questions of persistence and extirpation of native species when non-native species have already become established. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA).

Towler E.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | Saab V.A.,Rocky Research | Sojda R.S.,Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center | Dickinson K.,U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Management | Year: 2012

Given the projected threat that climate change poses to biodiversity, the need for proactive response efforts is clear. However, integrating uncertain climate change information into conservation planning is challenging, and more explicit guidance is needed. To this end, this article provides a specific example of how a risk-based approach can be used to incorporate a species' response to climate into conservation decisions. This is shown by taking advantage of species' response (i.e., impact) models that have been developed for a well-studied bird species of conservation concern. Specifically, we examine the current and potential impact of climate on nest survival of the Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) in two different habitats. To address climate uncertainty, climate scenarios are developed by manipulating historical weather observations to create ensembles (i.e., multiple sequences of daily weather) that reflect historical variability and potential climate change. These ensembles allow for a probabilistic evaluation of the risk posed to Lewis's Woodpecker nest survival and are used in two demographic analyses. First, the relative value of each habitat is compared in terms of nest survival, and second, the likelihood of exceeding a critical population threshold is examined. By embedding the analyses in a risk framework, we show how management choices can be made to be commensurate with a defined level of acceptable risk. The results can be used to inform habitat prioritization and are discussed in the context of an economic framework for evaluating tradeoffs between management alternatives. © The Author(s) 2012.

Peterson P.M.,Smithsonian Institution | Romaschenko K.,Smithsonian Institution | Romaschenko K.,Botanic Institute of Barcelona CSIC ICUB | Snow N.,Montana Natural Heritage Program | Johnson G.,Smithsonian Institution
Annals of Botany | Year: 2012

Background and AimsLeptochloa (including Diplachne) sensu lato (s.l.) comprises a diverse assemblage of C4 (NAD-ME and PCK) grasses with approx. 32 annual or perennial species. Evolutionary relationships and a modern classification of Leptochloa spp. based on the study of molecular characters have only been superficially investigated in four species. The goals of this study were to reconstruct the evolutionary history of Leptochloa s.l. with molecular data and broad taxon sampling. MethodsA phylogenetic analysis was conducted of 130 species (mostly Chloridoideae), of which 22 are placed in Leptochloa, using five plastid (rpL32-trn-L, ndhA intron, rps16 intron, rps16-trnK and ccsA) and the nuclear ITS 1 and 2 (ribosomal internal transcribed spacer regions) to infer evolutionary relationships and revise the classification. Key resultsLeptochloa s.l. is polyphyletic and strong support was found for five lineages. Embedded within the Leptochloa sensu stricto (s.s.) clade are two Trichloris spp. and embedded in Dinebra are Drake-brockmania and 19 Leptochloa spp. ConclusionsThe molecular results support the dissolution of Leptochloa s.l. into the following five genera: Dinebra with 23 species, Diplachne with two species, Disakisperma with three species, Leptochloa s.s. with five species and a new genus, Trigonochloa, with two species. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved.

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