We used landscape ecology concepts to test the importance of upland–wetland linkages on the distribution of two common wetland species, the northern watersnake Nerodia sipedon sipedon and midland painted turtle Chrysemys picta marginata, and two rare wetland species, the copper-bellied watersnake Nerodia erythrogaster neglecta and Blanding's turtle Emydoidea blandingii. We tested if connectivity (proximity to other wetlands), connectivity quality (wetland distance to roads and forest area within 30, 125, 250, 500 and 1000 m of the wetland), and patch size (wetland size and shoreline length) affected the distribution of these four species. Our results show that both common species were more likely to occur in larger, less isolated wetlands, but their distribution were not influenced by proximity to roads or the amount of adjacent forest area surrounding the wetland. Both rare species were more likely to occur in wetlands that were farther away from roads and that had more surrounding forest. Proximity to other wetlands was not a significant predictor of either rare species' distribution. Our results suggest that management practices should focus on protecting wetland complexes and maintaining upland–wetland linkages by improving landscape connectivity, increasing forest area surrounding wetlands and reducing road effects.