Associations between anuran tadpoles and salinity in a landscape mosaic of wetlands impacted by secondary salinisation


Michael Smith, Arthur Rylah Institute, 123 (PO Box 137) Brown Street, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia 3084, Australia. E-mail:


1. The secondary salinisation of wetlands is a global problem that poses a great threat to most freshwater biodiversity, including amphibians. We examined tadpole diversity in relation to wetland conductivity (our proxy for salinity) in wetlands in south-eastern Australia to better understand (i) how salinity and amphibian diversity interact and (ii) the threat posed by secondary salinisation.

2. Six tadpole species were trapped in 56 wetlands that reflected a typical salinity gradient for the study region. We developed Bayesian models to examine the relationships between conductivity and both the probability of species occupancy and expected number of species with the imperfect detection probability of species accounted for in the models.

3. The probability of occupancy for all species and expected species number was negatively associated with wetland conductivity. Our results predict that conductivity should not limit tadpole presence below about 3000 μS cm−1 at 25 °C (approximately 6% seawater) in the region, but will largely exclude amphibian larvae beyond about 6000 μS cm−1 at 25 °C (approximately 12% seawater).

4. We also detected subtle among-species differences in salinity tolerance. The results reported here show that tadpoles in the study region are likely to be negatively affected by projected future increases in salinisation.