Frog communities and wetland condition: relationships with grazing by domestic livestock along an Australian floodplain river

Amy Jansen, Michael Healey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Frogs are in decline worldwide, and are known to be sensitive indicators of environmental change. Floodplains of the Murray-Darling Basin in southeastern Australia have been altered in many ways by livestock grazing, by the introduction of exotic fish, and by changes to flooding regimes. These changes have led to declines in wetland condition and hence to the availability of habitat for wetland frogs. This study examined relationships between frogs, wetland condition and livestock grazing intensity at 26 wetlands on the floodplain of the Murrumbidgee River. Frog communities, species richness, and some individual species of frogs declined with increased grazing intensity. Wetland condition also declined with increased grazing intensity, particularly the aquatic vegetation and water quality components. There were clear relationships between frog communities and wetland condition, with several taxa responding to aquatic and fringing vegetation components of wetland condition. Thus, grazing intensity appeared to influence frog communities through changes in wetland habitat quality, particularly the vegetation. Reduced stocking rates may result in improved wetland condition and more diverse frog communities. River management to provide natural seasonal inundation of floodplain wetlands may also enhance wetland condition, frog activity and reproductive success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-219
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume109
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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