Chapter

Amphibian Population Cycles and Long-Term Data Sets

Howard H Whiteman and Scott A Wissinger

in Amphibian Declines

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780520235922
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929432 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520235922.003.0025
Amphibian Population Cycles and Long-Term Data Sets

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Although most researchers agree that many amphibian populations are declining, there is debate about how to distinguish human-induced declines from natural population fluctuations. As with many species, amphibian populations are regulated by a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can create cyclic population fluctuations. However, when compared to organisms such as insects and small mammals, there is a dearth of basic ecological information about the factors that underlie amphibian population cycles. This chapter argues that systematic, long-term research on amphibian populations is necessary to provide basic information about the amplitude and frequency of natural fluctuations. Such baseline information is essential for posing and testing alternative hypotheses to explain amphibian population declines. The chapter reviews twenty years of research on a population of Arizona tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum) at the Mexican Cut Nature Preserve in south-central Colorado. It also discusses the ability of long-term demographic studies to provide the background information necessary to distinguish natural fluctuations from human-induced declines.

Keywords: Arizona tiger salamanders; Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum; Mexican Cut Nature Preserve; amphibians; population declines; population cycles; population fluctuations

Chapter.  5647 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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