OPS 2-8
Amphibians and climate change: Perspectives on where we are & looking forward

Monday, August 10, 2015
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Maureen E. Ryan, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Meghan Halabisky, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Se-Yeun Lee, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Wendy J. Palen, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada
Alan Hamlet, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
Michael Adams, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, USGS, Corvallis, OR
Background/Question/Methods: Climate change involves shifts in temperature and precipitation that affect amphibians through a variety of mechanisms. Several decades of research on amphibian declines and climate change offer an initial foundation of knowledge regarding these mechanisms and their consequences for amphibians. Many questions are unanswered. Frequently the resources needed to evaluate the effects of climate change on amphibians, or to develop and test hypotheses, are lacking or underdeveloped. This poster includes 1) an overview of perspectives on key lessons from the last several decades of research on amphibians and climate change, 2) perspectives on essential research needs, and 3) case studies of pilot approaches and improved resources to support climate-related amphibian conservation. We focus primarily on pond-breeding amphibians. Perspectives were gathered through a survey of top amphibian researchers. Case studies reflect multiple methods from remote sensing, hydroclimatic modeling, and ecological modeling conducted by the University of Washington Wetlands Adaptation Group.

Results/Conclusions: Among the primary mechanisms affecting amphibian populations are: 1) hydrologic changes to amphibian habitat, 2) thermal impacts, 3) changes in phenology, and 4) potential for altered disease dynamics. These will collectively affect individual physiology and behavior; habitat availability and suitability and hence population distributions and connectivity; species interactions; regional community dynamics; and ultimately the endangerment or robustness of species and groups. Looking forward, case studies from montane and arid lands regions of the Pacific Northwest demonstrate how some of these challenges are beginning to be addressed. For example, improved remote sensing methods for identifying unmapped wetlands and reconstructing historical wetland hydrographs make it possible to establish better historical baselines, evaluate current conditions, and assess changes in wetland availability for amphibians. These can be linked to new approaches for modeling wetland hydrology and climate impacts on wetlands at landscape scales. The combination of these tools make it possible to identify potential hotspots of habitat loss for given species or assemblages; evaluate and develop climate adaptation strategies; inform monitoring design; and develop new hypotheses to test to enhance our knowledge of amphibians and climate change.