Habitat Selection and Site Fidelity of Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) at the Aquatic-Terrestrial Ecotone

Wetlands are essential breeding sites for many amphibians. The importance of terrestrial habitat for many aquatic-breeding amphibian species is well known, although often understudied and understated. This study examined the recapture rates, habitat use, and site fidelity of Cope’s Gray Treefrogs(Hyla chrysoscelis) within and surrounding a wetland for 15 months. Using visible implant elastomer and visible implant alpha tags, we tracked individuals as they used a grid of 110 PVC pipes as refugia. PVC pipe refugia allow treefrogs to be sampled when not actively calling or breeding. We captured 82 individual frogs a total of 141 times (59 recaptures). Treefrogs occupied pipes every month except during winter (December, January, and February). Recapture rates  decreased during the breeding season (May, June, and July). Preferred pipes were in terrestrial habitat or close to trees instead of in aquatic habitat devoid of trees.
Treefrogs displayed high site fidelity; only three frogs were recaptured in pipes different from those in which they were originally captured. Our results suggest that H.  Chrysoscelis select terrestrial habitat adjacent to wetlands and have high site fidelity, which could have important implications for the conservation of treefrogs and other wetland-breeding amphibians.
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Abstract/Description: Wetlands are essential breeding sites for many amphibians. The importance of terrestrial habitat for many aquatic-breeding amphibian species is well known, although often understudied and understated. This study examined the recapture rates, habitat use, and site fidelity of Cope’s Gray Treefrogs(Hyla chrysoscelis) within and surrounding a wetland for 15 months. Using visible implant elastomer and visible implant alpha tags, we tracked individuals as they used a grid of 110 PVC pipes as refugia. PVC pipe refugia allow treefrogs to be sampled when not actively calling or breeding. We captured 82 individual frogs a total of 141 times (59 recaptures). Treefrogs occupied pipes every month except during winter (December, January, and February). Recapture rates decreased during the breeding season (May, June, and July). Preferred pipes were in terrestrial habitat or close to trees instead of in aquatic habitat devoid of trees. Treefrogs displayed high site fidelity; only three frogs were recaptured in pipes different from those in which they were originally captured. Our results suggest that H. Chrysoscelis select terrestrial habitat adjacent to wetlands and have high site fidelity, which could have important implications for the conservation of treefrogs and other wetland-breeding amphibians.
Subject(s): herpetology