Species Interactions in Constructed Wetlands Result in Population Sinks for Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) while Benefitting Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens)

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Stephen RichterORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-6646-2484


Biological Sciences

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Wetland construction has been used as a tool to mitigate wetland loss, but constructed wetlands might not provide the same functions as natural wetlands. Hundreds of long-hydroperiod wetlands have been constructed within the Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky, in a ridge-top ecosystem where natural wetlands dry annually (i.e., have short hydroperiods). The constructed wetlands have been colonized by several amphibian species not historically associated with this ecosystem and that could have negative impacts on native amphibian species. We compared wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) reproductive success at constructed and natural wetlands and benefits of wood frog presence in constructed wetlands to eastern newts (Notophthalmus viridescens). Wood frog reproductive success was zero when eggs were laid in constructed wetlands: 7–70 % of eggs were consumed and no wood frog larvae were found. Eastern newts, present at all constructed wetlands, benefited from wood frog presence, i.e., newts in constructed wetlands with wood frog eggs had higher body condition than newts in natural wetlands. Wetland construction techniques should be altered so their hydrology mimics that of natural wetlands to support historically occurring species. Understanding the influence of species interactions, as habitat loss and modification increase, will continue to be critical for amphibian conservation.

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