Hydroregime prediction models for ephemeral groundwater-driven sinkhole wetlands: a planning tool for climate change and amphibian conservation
Hydroregimes of ephemeral wetlands affect reproductive success of many amphibian species and are sensitive to altered weather patterns associated with climate change.We used 17 years of weekly temperature, precipitation, and waterdepth measurements for eight small, ephemeral, groundwaterdriven sinkhole wetlands in Florida sandhills to develop a hydroregime predictive model. To illustrate its utility for climate-change planning, we forecasted weekly wetland water-depths and hydroperiods (2012–2060) using our model and downscaled climate data from the CSIRO Mk3.5 Global Circulation Model under an A1B emissions scenario.We then examined how forecasted water depths and hydroperiods might alter reproductive success, and thereby populations, of five anuran species. Precipitation and water-depth from the prior week were significant predictors of water depth. Our model forecasted shallower depths and shortened hydroperiods for most wetlands when used with the CSIRO Mk3.5 A1B scenario. The forecasted hydroregimes would likely provide adequate reproductive opportunity for only one of the five species we examined. We demonstrate the utility of our model in examining how different climatechange scenarios might affect hydroregimes and, indirectly, biological diversity. Climate change uncertainty highlights the importance of retaining multiple, hydrologically diverse wetlands on landscapes to maximize the potential for successful reproduction by species having differing hydroregime requirements.