Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Iowa
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Bartelt, P.E., and R.W. Klaver. Response of anurans to wetland restoration on a midwestern agriculture landscape. Journal of Herpetology 51:505-514.


Since the early 1990s, >5,000 ha of historic wetlands (and adjacent prairie) have been restored on the row-crop agricultural landscape of Winnebago County, Iowa, USA. From 2008–2011, we surveyed 22 of these sites for probabilities of occupancy and colonization by Boreal Chorus Frogs (BCF; Pseudacris maculata), Northern Leopard Frogs (NLF; Lithobates pipiens), and American Toads (AT; Anaxyrus americanus). We used radio telemetry to measure patterns of movement and habitat use by 22 NLF and 54 AT and deployed biophysical models in available habitats to estimate their physiological costs. The BCF occupied 100% of restored wetlands; NLF and AToccupied 59–91% and 71–89%, respectively, varying according to annual weather conditions. The BCF colonized new sites within a year; NLF and ATrequired 3 and 2 yr, respectively. These differences were related to distances from the nearest established population and costs of intervening cover types, and were statistically related to the size and orientation of restored wetlands. The ranges of maximum straight-line distances moved by NLF and AT were 31–857 m and 42–2,932 m, respectively. Both NLF and AT selected wetlands and surrounding prairies, though NLF were nine times more likely to select wetland habitats than all others combined. About 24% of ATused row-crop fields extensively, but not until crops had grown sufficiently to reduce the physiological costs of these fields similar to that of prairies. Both BCF and AT navigated the dramatically altered row-crop landscape, but NLF depended more heavily on roadside ditches to find and colonize restored wetlands.