Although amphibians are one of the most threatened animal groups, little published evidence exists on effective management programs. In order for conservation initiatives to be successful, an understanding of habitat use patterns is required to identify important environmental features. However, habitat use may differ between the different sexes and age classes due to different behavioural and resource requirements. For this study, we compared microhabitat use during the active breeding season among the sexes and age classes in the endangered green and golden bell frog Litoria aurea, a species which has had several failed management programs. We found aquatic vegetation was selected for by every L. aurea class, and should be the focus of future management plans for this species. Females were the only class to select for terrestrial vegetation more than availability. Increasing the amount of terrestrial vegetation around ponds may help encourage female occupancy, and possibly improve management outcomes, as they are typically a limiting resource. Although large rock piles have been used in past L. aurea habitat management, they were selected for by adults and juveniles, but not metamorphs. Therefore, large rocks may not be necessary for captive breeding portions of management initiatives, which typically only involve tadpoles and metamorphs prior to release. The results indicate that the most appropriate management plans should contain a habitat mosaic of various microhabitats, such as a large proportion of aquatic and terrestrial vegetation with patches of bare ground and a small proportion of rocks for basking and shelter. Recognizing differences in microhabitat use patterns between individuals in a population and implementing them into management strategies should be a pivotal step in any conservation plan.
Microhabitat selection varies by sex and age class in the endangered green and golden bell frog Litoria aurea
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J. Valdez, K. Klop-Toker, M.P. Stockwell, S. Clulow, J. Clulow, M.J. Mahony; Microhabitat selection varies by sex and age class in the endangered green and golden bell frog Litoria aurea. Australian Zoologist 1 December 2016; 38 (2): 223–234. doi: https://doi.org/10.7882/AZ.2016.031
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