Quantifying climate sensitivity and climate-driven change in North American amphibian communities


David A.W. Miller, Pennsylvania State University
Evan H.Campbell Grant, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Erin Muths, Fort Collins Science Center
Staci M. Amburgey, Pennsylvania State University
Michael J. Adams, USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Maxwell B. Joseph, University of Colorado Boulder
J. Hardin Waddle, United States Geological Survey
Pieter T.J. Johnson, University of Colorado Boulder
Maureen E. Ryan, University of Washington
Benedikt R. Schmidt, University of Zurich
Daniel L. Calhoun, United States Geological Survey
Courtney L. Davis, Pennsylvania State University
Robert N. Fisher, United States Geological Survey
David M. Green, Université McGill
Blake R. Hossack, United States Geological Survey
Tracy A.G. Rittenhouse, University of Connecticut
Susan C. Walls, United States Geological Survey
Larissa L. Bailey, Colorado State University
Sam S. Cruickshank, University of Zurich
Gary M. Fellers, United States Geological Survey
Thomas A. Gorman, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Carola A. Haas, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Ward Hughson, Parks Canada
David S. Pilliod, USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center Snake River Field Station
Steven J. Price, University of Kentucky
Andrew M. Ray, US National Park Service
Walt Sadinski, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Daniel Saenz, United States Department of Agriculture
William J. Barichivich, United States Geological Survey
Adrianne Brand, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Cheryl S. Brehme, United States Geological Survey

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Changing climate will impact species’ ranges only when environmental variability directly impacts the demography of local populations. However, measurement of demographic responses to climate change has largely been limited to single species and locations. Here we show that amphibian communities are responsive to climatic variability, using >500,000 time-series observations for 81 species across 86 North American study areas. The effect of climate on local colonization and persistence probabilities varies among eco-regions and depends on local climate, species life-histories, and taxonomic classification. We found that local species richness is most sensitive to changes in water availability during breeding and changes in winter conditions. Based on the relationships we measure, recent changes in climate cannot explain why local species richness of North American amphibians has rapidly declined. However, changing climate does explain why some populations are declining faster than others. Our results provide important insights into how amphibians respond to climate and a general framework for measuring climate impacts on species richness.

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Nature Communications









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