Seasonal patterns of activity and community structure in an amphibian assemblage at a pond network with variable hydrology

We studied community structure and seasonal’activity patterns in a system of four ponds with seasonally-variable hydrology at a Mediterranean area in central Italy. We used a set of field methods to assess species presence and relative frequency of observation. The network of ponds was inhabited by six species of amphibians, two salamanders and four frogs. The breeding phenology of the six species did not vary remarkably among ponds, but there were significant differences among species in use of ponds. Factorial’analysis of pond similarity drawn from percentage composition of the amphibian fauna, revealed that each of the four ponds was treatable as independent units, with no influence of relative inter-pond distance. PCA analysis allowed us to spatially arrange the amphibian species into three main groups: two were monospecific groups (i.e., Triturus vulgaris and Bufo bufo) and the third consisted of those species that selected not only the largest-deepest ponds, but also the ephemeral’ones (i.e., Triturus carnifex, Hyla intermedia, the green frogs and Rana dalmatina). Our results suggest that the inter-pond differences in riparian végétation, water depth, aquatic végétation structure/abundance, and soil composition may produce differences among pond ecological characteristics (i.e., water turbidity and temperature, shelter availability, abundance of oviposition micro-sites), which may in turn influence différent patterns of use by amphibians. To our knowledge, this is the first study emphasizing the potential rôle of heterochrony in the maintenance of a high species richness in Mediterranean amphibian communities. Preservation of freshwater vertebrate biodiversity requires management and protection not only of the main ponds and water bodies but also the temporary and ephemeral shallow ponds.

  • Genre de document : Revue
  • Type de document : À préciser

  • Auteurs principaux : LEONARDO VIGNOLI, Marco Bologna A., LUCA LUISELLI
  • Date de publication : 1 janvier 2007