Title page for ETD etd-06232005-123418

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Bishop, David Christopher
Author's Email Address dabishop@vt.edu
URN etd-06232005-123418
Title Ecology and distribution of the Florida bog frog and flatwoods salamander on Eglin Air Force Base
Degree PhD
Department Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Haas, Carola A. Committee Chair
Aust, Wallace Michael Committee Member
Fraser, James D. Committee Member
Parkhurst, James A. Committee Member
Walters, Jeffery R. Committee Member
  • tadpole
  • fire
  • behavior
  • call
  • conservation
  • amphibian
Date of Defense 2005-06-09
Availability unrestricted
I studied the ecology and distribution of the Florida bog frog (Rana okaloosae) and flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) on Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. I report data on the breeding ecology, population dynamics, home ranges, microhabitat, and distribution of the endemic bog frog and make comparisons to its closest relative, the bronze frog (Rana clamitans clamitans). Bog and bronze frogs occur in the same habitats and are suspected to hybridize.

I investigated the potential for auditory and visual mate recognition errors between R. okaloosae and R. clamitans. I also described the vocal repertoire of the bog frog and observed the response of resident males to the playback of unfamiliar conspecific and heterospecific (R. clamitans) calls. The advertisement calls of bog frogs vary among individuals, and individual voice recognition is possible.

I exposed tadpoles of bog frogs, bronze frogs, and leopard frogs (R. sphenocephala) to chemical cues from 2 predators, the banded water snake (Colubridae: Nerodia fasciata) and the red fin pickerel (Esocidae: Esox americanus) to evaluate whether swimming behavior or habitat selection differed among tadpole species. The time spent swimming differed among tadpole species and predator treatments, differences which potentially could affect growth rates, survivorship rates, and distribution patterns.

Lastly, I discuss the relationship between fire and the federally–threatened flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum). I compared 13 breeding wetlands with different fire histories in addition to burned and unburned halves of a partially–burned wetland. In general, areas that burned more recently had more open canopies, higher dissolved oxygen concentrations, higher water temperatures, more understory vegetation, and were shallower than unburned areas. Rangewide surveys indicate that prescribed fires typically are applied in winter and early spring in areas inhabited by flatwoods salamanders. Based on what is known about the natural history of the species, the historical burning regime of the longleaf ecosystem, and the effects of fires on ephemeral wetlands, I suggest that land mangers diversify their fire–management strategy to increase the likelihood of burning the breeding wetlands of flatwoods salamanders.

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