Physiology and ecology to inform climate adaptation strategies for desert amphibians

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10 Scopus citations


Many amphibian populations in desert environments are likely at risk of decline or extirpation due to more extreme weather driven by climate change. Most desert species are explosive breeders, taking advantage of rainfall large enough to potentially support reproduction. Hence, management strategies for amphibians in general may not apply to anurans in temperate and subtropical deserts. Sustaining populations of desert amphibians is complex in that we are managing species assemblages that are relatively vulnerable to climate change, while planning for an environment that will change in ways that are not clear. However, we can improve the success of proactive management by integrating physiology with ecology within the context of a changing climate. Explicit consideration of physiology and ecology can target efficient habitat management actions such as identifying where to add shading or to extend hydroperiod. This approach can also improve outcomes when re-establishing native fauna by identifying life stages robust to release. Further we can improve our management of invasive species by explicit consideration of physiological constraints on dispersal capability of the invasive species to help plan where to fragment habitat connectivity to block invasions. To effectively plan for desert amphibians and climate change, science, management and policy makers must openly communicate about what we know, what information we lack, and the limitations of our knowledge. By explicitly including physiology in our management decisions we can refine our approach and more efficiently apply limited resources of time and money.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-582
Number of pages20
JournalHerpetological Conservation and Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Climate change
  • Collaboration
  • Desert ecology
  • Ecological interactions
  • Habitat enhancement
  • Head-starting
  • Landscape planning
  • Vulnerability assessment


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