Effects of experimental canopy manipulation on amphibian egg deposition
Although effects of forest management on amphibians are relatively well studied, few studies have examined how these practices affect egg deposition by adults, which can impact population recruitment. We quantified the effects of 4 canopy tree-retention treatments on amphibian oviposition patterns in clusters of 60-L aquatic mesocosms located in each treatment. We also related aquatic and terrestrial biophysical parameters in treatment plots to oviposition patterns. Cope’s gray treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) deposited more egg masses in clear-cut and 25–50% tree-retention treatments than in controls. In contrast, mountain chorus frogs (Pseudacris brachyphona) deposited more egg masses in unharvested control and 75% retention treatments than in clear-cut or 25–50% retention treatments. Spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) only deposited eggs in 75% retention treatments and controls. The number of egg masses deposited by mountain chorus frogs was positively related to canopy cover and negatively related to water temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen, whereas we noted the opposite relationships for Cope’s gray treefrogs. We did not detect a relationship between the number of egg masses deposited by any species and the distance of mesocosms to either the nearest mature closed-canopy forest or to the nearest natural amphibian breeding pool. The impacts of the silvicultural treatments we studied were species-specific and depended on the amount of trees removed. In areas where protection of spotted salamander and mountain chorus frog breeding habitat is a priority, we recommend harvests retain at least 75% of the canopy. Our results also suggest that retention of 25–50% of canopy trees surrounding amphibian breeding pools has little conservation benefit.