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Keywords:

  • amphibians;
  • call surveys;
  • colonization;
  • extinction;
  • Lousiana;
  • occupancy

Abstract

Effective monitoring programs are designed to track changes in the distribution, occurrence, and abundance of species. We developed an extension of Royle and Kéry's (2007) single species model to estimate simultaneously temporal changes in probabilities of detection, occupancy, colonization, extinction, and species turnover using data on calling anuran amphibians, collected from 2002 to 2006 in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley of Louisiana, USA. During our 5-year study, estimates of occurrence probabilities declined for all 12 species detected. These declines occurred primarily in conjunction with variation in estimates of local extinction probabilities (cajun chorus frog [Pseudacris fouquettei], spring peeper [P. crucifer], northern cricket frog [Acris crepitans], Cope's gray treefrog [Hyla chrysoscelis], green treefrog [H. cinerea], squirrel treefrog [H. squirella], southern leopard frog [Lithobates sphenocephalus], bronze frog [L. clamitans], American bullfrog [L. catesbeianus], and Fowler's toad [Anaxyrus fowleri]). For 2 species (eastern narrow-mouthed toad [Gastrophryne carolinensis] and Gulf Coast toad [Incilius nebulifer]), declines in occupancy appeared to be a consequence of both increased local extinction and decreased colonization events. The eastern narrow-mouthed toad experienced a 2.5-fold increase in estimates of occupancy in 2004, possibly because of the high amount of rainfall received during that year, along with a decrease in extinction and increase in colonization of new sites between 2003 and 2004. Our model can be incorporated into monitoring programs to estimate simultaneously the occupancy dynamics for multiple species that show similar responses to ecological conditions. It will likely be an important asset for those monitoring programs that employ the same methods to sample assemblages of ecologically similar species, including those that are rare. By combining information from multiple species to decrease the variance on estimates of individual species, our results are advantageous compared to single-species models. This feature enables managers and researchers to use an entire community, rather than just one species, as an ecological indicator in monitoring programs. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.