Consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation for wetland amphibian assemblages

Richard M. Lehtinen, Susan M. Galatowitsch, John R. Tester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Landscape-level variables operating at multiple spatial scales likely influence wetland amphibian assemblages but have not been investigated in detail. We examined the significance of habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as selected within-wetland conditions, affecting amphibian assemblages in twenty-one glacial marshes. Wetlands were located within urban and agricultural regions of central and southwestern Minnesota, USA and were distributed across two ecoregions: tallgrass prairie and northern hardwood forest. We surveyed amphibian assemblages and used a geographic information system to quantify land-use variables at three scales: 500, 1000, and 2500 m. Ten species of amphibians were detected, the most abundant being Rana pipiens, Ambystoma tigrinum, and Bufo americanus. Amphibian species richness was lower with greater wetland isolation and road density at all spatial scales in both ecoregions. Amphibian species richness also had a negative relationship with the proportion of urban land-use at all spatial scales in the hardwood forest ecoregion, and species richness was greater in wetlands with fish and Ambystoma tigrinum. These biotic relationships are less consistent and more difficult to interpret than are land-use relationships. The data presented here suggest that decreases in landscape connectivity via fragmentation and habitat loss can affect amphibian assemblages, and reversing those landscape changes should be an important part of a regional conservation strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999


  • Amphibians
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Landscape ecology
  • Metapopulations
  • Minnesota
  • Wetlands


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