Persistence of herpetofauna in the urbanized rouge river ecosystem


Over 100 years, urbanization has taken place along the Rouge River watershed of southeast Michigan, USA. To determine the impact(s) of urbanization on herpetofauna, species richness and distribution in 122 wetlands along 13.0 km of the urbanized Rouge River watershed were monitored from early spring to late fall 2003. Data were mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Both amphibian and reptile species richness were associated with wetland size and hydroperiod. The invasive plants Alliaria petiolata and Rhamnus cathartica were coincident with lower than average amphibian species richness. In spite of the number of herpetofauna being relatively low, this study identified hydroperiod and wetland size as important features that may contribute to amphibian and reptile species sustainability in this highly disturbed and fragmented urban landscape.

Share and Cite:

Mifsud, D. and Thomas, J. (2013) Persistence of herpetofauna in the urbanized rouge river ecosystem. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 234-241. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.33027.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Allentoft, M.E. and O’Brien, J. (2010) Global amphibian declines, loss of genetic diversity and fitness: A review. Diversity, 2, 47-71. doi:10.3390/d2010047
[2] Alford, R.A. and Richards, S.J. (1999) Global amphibian declines: A problem in applied ecology. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 30, 133-165. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.30.1.133
[3] Gibbons, J.W. (2003) Terrestrial habitat: A vital component for herpetofauna of isolated wetlands. Wetlands, 23, 630-635. doi:10.1672/0277-5212(2003)023[0630:THAVCF]2.0.CO;2
[4] Joly, P., Morand, C. and Cohas, A. (2003) Habitat fragmentation and amphibian conservation: Building a tool for assessing landscape matrix connectivity. Comptes Rendus Biologies, 326, S132-S139. doi:10.1016/S1631-0691(03)00050-7
[5] Marchand, M.N. and Litvaitis, J.A. (2004) Effects of habitat features and landscape composition on the population structure of a common aquatic turtle in a region undergoing rapid development. Conservation Biology, 18, 758-767. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00019.x
[6] Weyrauch, S.L. and Grubb Jr. T.C., (2004) Patch and landscape characteristics associated with the distribution of woodland amphibians in an agricultural fragmented landscape: An information—Theoretic approach. Biology Conservation, 115, 443-445. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(03)00161-7
[7] Crain, D.A. and Guillette Jr., L.J. (1998) Reptiles as models of contaminant-induced endocrine disruption. Animal Reproduction Science, 53, 77-86. doi:10.1016/S0378-4320(98)00128-6
[8] Fontenot, L.W., Noblet, G.P., Akins, J.A., Stephens, M.D. and Cobb, G.P. (2000) Bioaccumulation of polychlorinated biphenyls in ranid frogs and northern water snakes from a hazardous waste site and a contaminated watershed. Chemosphere, 40, 803-809. doi:10.1016/S0045-6535(99)00329-X
[9] Davidson, C., Shaffer, H.B. and Jennings, M.R. (2001) Declines of the California Red-legged Frog: Climate, UV-B, habitat, and pesticides hypotheses. Ecological Applications, 11, 464-479. doi:10.1890/1051-0761(2001)011[0464:DOTCRL]2.0.CO;2
[10] Hels, T. and Buchwald, E. (2001) The effect of road kills on amphibious populations. Biology Conservation, 99, 331-334. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00215-9
[11] Lemckert, F.L. (2004) Variations in anuran movements and habitat use: Implications for conservation. Applied Herpetology, 1, 165-181. doi:10.1163/157075403323012179
[12] Gibbs, J.P. and Shriver, W.G. (2002) Estimating the effects of road mortality on turtle populations. Conservation Biology, 16, 1647-1652. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2002.01215.x
[13] Parent, C. and Weatherhead, P.J. (2000) Behavioral and life history responses of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) to human disturbance. Oecologia, 125, 170-178. doi:10.1007/s004420000442
[14] Ryan, T.J., Conner, C.A., Douthiff, B.A., Sterrett, S.C. and Salsbury, C.M. (2008) Movement and habitat use of two aquatic turtles (Graptemys geographica and Trachemys scripta) in an urban landscape. Urban Ecosystem, 11, 213-225. doi:10.1007/s11252-008-0049-8
[15] Semlitsch, R.D. and Gibbons, J.W. (1988) Fish predation in size-structured populations of treefrog tadpoles. Oceologia, 75, 321-326. doi:10.1007/BF00376932
[16] Pechmann, J.H.K., Scott, D.E., Gibbons, J.W. and Semlitsch, R.D. (1989) Influence of wetland hydroperiod on diversity and abundance of metamorphosing juvenile amphibians. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 1, 3-11. doi:10.1007/BF00177885
[17] Berven, K.A. (1990) Factors affecting population fluctuations in larval and adult stages of the Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica). Ecology, 71, 1599-1608. doi:10.2307/1938295
[18] Ryan, T.J. and Winne, C.T. (2001) Effects of hydroperiod on metamorphosis in Rana sphenocephala. American Midland Naturalist, 145, 46-53. doi:10.1674/0003-0031(2001)145[0046:EOHOMI]2.0.CO;2
[19] Lake, P.S. (2003) Ecological effects of perturbation by drought in flowing waters. Freshwater Biology, 48, 1161-1172.
[20] Semlitsch, R.D. and Bodie, J.R. (1998) Are small isolated wetlands expendable? Conservation Biology, 12, 1129-1133. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1998.98166.x
[21] Nuzzo, V.A. and Mierzwa, K.S. (2000) The effect of forest structure on amphibian abundance and diversity in the Chicago region. Citizens for Conservation, US Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes National Program Office, Lake County Forest Preserve District, Forest Preserve District of Will County, Fox River Grove, 1-28.
[22] Snodgrass, J.W., Komoroski, M.J., Bryan Jr., A.L. and Burger, J. (2000) Relationships among isolated wetland size, hydroperiod, and amphibian species richness: Implications for wetlands regulations. Conservation Biology, 14, 414-419. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2000.99161.x
[23] McKinney, M.L. (2008) Effects of urbanization on species richness: A review of plants and animals. Urban Ecosystem, 11, 161-176. http///
[24] Beam, J.D. and Braunscheidel, J.J. (1998) Rouge river assessment. Special Report 22, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division, Lansing, MI 48909, Ann Arbor.,4570,7-153-10364_52259_19056-46270--,00.html
[25] Murray, K.S., Cauvet, D.C., Lybeer, M. and Thomas, J.C. (1999) Particle size and chemical control of heavy metals in bed sediment from the Rouge River, southeast Michigan. Environmental Science and Technology, 3, 987-992. doi:10.1021/es9807946
[26] Barnes, J.D., Cave, K., Cox, D., Dittmar, R., El-Gharib, R., Giberson, K., Graham, J., Heise, K., Lakhani, M., Lamkin, G., Mullet, N., Powell, J., Sienkiewicz, S., Udoji, G. and Zoumbaris, J. (2001) Lower 2 rouge river subwatershed management plan. Rouge River Nat. Wet Weather Demonstration Project, The Wayne County Rouge Program, Wayne Count.
[27] Beaudrie, C., Cave, K., Giberson, K., Graham, J., Heise, K., Kibby, M., Kozuh, J., Mullet, N., Powell, J., Sienkiewicz, S., Snage, L., Udoji, G. and Witte, E.W. (2001) Main 3-4 rouge river subwatershed management plan. The Wayne County Rouge Program, Wayne County.
[28] Mifsud, D.A. (2004) Influence of urban land use on herpetofaunal diversity and distribution within the Rouge River Watershed. Southeast Michigan, USA. Natural Sciences Department, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Dearborn.
[29] Thomas, J.C., Cable, E., Dabkowski, R.T., Gargala, S., McCall, D., Pangrazzi, G., Pierson, A., Ripper M., Russell, D.K. and Rugh, C.L. (2012) Native Michigan plants stimulate soil microbial species changes and PAH remediation at a legacy steel mill. International Journal of Phytoremediation, 15, 1-15. doi:10.1080/15226514.2012.669800
[30] Rogers, J. (2003) Land-use change in southeast Michigan: Causes and consequences. SEMCOG. Detroit.
[31] Arnold, C.L. and Gibbons, C.J. (1996) Impervious surface coverage. Journal of the American Planning Association, 62, 243-258. doi:10.1080/01944369608975688
[32] Schueler, T.R. and Holland H.K. (2000) The practice of watershed protection; techniques for protecting our nation’s streams, lakes, rivers, and estuaries. Center for Watershed Protection Publishers, Ellicott City.
[33] Paul, M.J. and Meyer, J.L. (2001) Streams in the urban landscape. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 32, 333-365. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.32.081501.114040
[34] Morse, C.C., Huryn, A.D. and Cronan. C. (2003) Impervious surface area as a predictor of the effects of urbanization on stream insect communities. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 89, 95-127. doi:10.1023/A:1025821622411
[35] Benfield, F.K., Raimi, M.D. and Chen, D.T. (1999) Once there were greenfields. Natural Resources Defense Council and Surface Transportation Policy Project, New York.
[36] MDEQ (2001) Wetland identification manual. Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Lansing.
[37] Mitsch, W.J. and Gosselink J.G. (2007) Wetlands. 4th Edition, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken.
[38] USDA (1987) Hydric soils of the United States. United States Department of Agriculture, USA.
[39] Engineers, U.A.C.O. (1987) Corps of engineers wetlands delineation manual. Environmental Laboratory. Wetlands Research Program Technical Report.
[40] Great Lakes Region (1997) The University Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.
[41] Stevens, C.E. and Paszkowski, C.A. (2004) Using chorussize ranks from call surveys to estimate reproductive activity of the wood frog (Rana sylvatica). Journal of Herpetology, 38, 404-410. doi:10.1670/195-03A
[42] Gagné, S.A. and Fahrig, L. (2007) Effect of landscape context on anuran communities in breeding ponds in the National Capital Region, Canada. Landscape Ecology, 22, 205-215. doi:10.1007/s10980-006-9012-3
[43] Shannon, C. (1948) A mathematical theory of communication. Bell Systems Technological Journal, 27, 379-423.
[44] Wheater, C.P. and Cook, P.A. (2000) Using statistics to understand the environment. Routledge, New York.
[45] USFWS (2004) The declining amphibian population task force. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura.
[46] Rubbo, M.J. and Kiesecker, J.M. (2005) Amphibian breeding distribution in an urbanized landscape. Conservation Biology, 19, 504-511. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.000101.x
[47] MDOT (2003) Average daily transportation map. Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan.
[48] Bonin, J.J., DesGranges, I., Rodrigue, J. and Ouellet, M. (1997) Anuran species richness in agricultural landscapes of Quebec: Foreseeing long-term results of road call surveys. In: Green, D.M, Ed., Amphibians in Decline: Canadian Studies of a Global Problem, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, St. Louis, 141-149.
[49] Hecnar, S.J. and M’Closkey, R.T. (1996) Regional dynamics and the status of amphibians. Ecology, 77, 2091-2097. doi:10.2307/2265703
[50] Knutson, M.G., Sauer, J.R., Olsen, D.A., Mossman, M.J., Hemesath, L.M. and Lannoo, M.J. (1999) Effects of landscape composition and wetland fragmentation on frog and toad abundance and species richness in Iowa and Wisconsin, USA. Conservation Biology, 13, 1437-1446. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.1999.98445.x
[51] Russell, K.R., Guynn Jr., D.C. and Hanlin, H.G. (2002) Importance of small isolated wetlands for herpetofauna diversity in managed young growth forests in the Costal Plain of South Carolina. Ecology and Forest Management, 163, 43-59. doi:10.1016/S0378-1127(01)00526-6
[52] Magurran, A.E. (2004) Measuring biological diversity. Wiley, London.
[53] Gibbons, J.W., Winne, C.T., Scott, D.E., Willson, J.D., Glaudas, X., Andrews, K.M., Todd, B.D., Fedewa, L.A., Wilkinson, L., Tsaliagos, R.N., Harper, S.J., Greene, J.L., Tuberville, T.D., Metts, B.S., Dorcas, M.E., Nestor, J.P., Young, C.A., Akre, T., Reed, R.N., Buhlmann, K.A., Norman, J., Croshaw, D.A., Hagen, C. and Rothermel, B.B. (2006) Remarkable amphibian biomass and abundance in an isolated wetland: Implications for wetland conservation. Conservation Biology, 20, 1457-1465. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00443.x
[54] Werner, E.E., Yurewicz, K.L., Skelly, D.K. and Relyea, R.A. (2007) Turnover in an amphibian metacommunity: The role of local and regional factors. Oikos, 116, 1713-1725. doi:10.1111/j.0030-1299.2007.16039.x
[55] Semlitsch, R.D. and Bodie, J.R. (2003) Biological criteria for buffer zones around wetlands and riparian habitats for amphibians and reptiles. Conservation Biology, 17, 1219-1228. doi:10.1046/j.1523-1739.2003.02177.x

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.