Wood frogs research clarifies risks posed to animals by warming climateAugust 19, 2017
As conditions warm, fish and wildlife living at the southern edge of their species' ranges are most at risk, according to Penn State researchers who led a major collaborative study of how wood frogs are being affected by climate change.
However, determining which species and which populations are in danger of declining or disappearing is not simple or straightforward, according to researcher David Miller, assistant professor of wildlife population ecology, College of Agricultural Sciences. Local and regional precipitation trends are nearly as important as temperature in determining the fate of many animals, he explained, and that's especially true with moisture-sensitive creatures such as amphibians.
Miller's lab spearheaded the study that included 14 universities, the U.S. Geological Survey, and several other state and federal agencies, looking at long-term monitoring data from 746 wood frog populations in 27 study areas, from Tennessee to Canada. The research focused on how climatic variation affected population growth rates and how these relationships varied with respect to long-term climate.
In many of the wood frog populations studied, researchers found evidence of interacting temperature and precipitation influencing population size, such as warmer summers having less of a negative effect in areas that received more precipitation. Some of the findings, which were published early online today (Aug. 19) in Global Change Biology, were expected, but some were counter-intuitive, Miller noted.
As anticipated, researchers saw wood frog populations that seemed to be suffering from warmer than normal summer temperatures in hotter areas in the southern part of the range. Similarly, they found higher than average rainfall in areas that typically experience lower annual rainfall saw positive effects on wood frog population growth.
But other results were contrary to expectations, such as positive effects of higher than normal rainfall in wetter parts of the range and positive responses to winter warming, especially in milder areas. In general, researchers found wood frogs were more sensitive to changes in temperature or temperature interacting with precipitation than to changes in precipitation alone.
Northward shifts in wildlife ranges may be expected in coming years or decades, noted lead researcher Staci Amburgey, a doctoral degree student in ecology, but that trend may depend nearly as much on demographic weather patterns as warming temperatures. And in the case of wood frogs, other factors are also at play.
The study's results suggest that sensitivity to changes in climate cannot be predicted simply by knowing locations within the species' climate envelope, she pointed out. Many climate processes did not affect population growth rates as expected, based on range position. Processes such as species interactions, local adaptation and interactions with the physical landscape likely affect the responses researchers observed.
"Wood frogs are really broadly distributed, so I don't think the species is going to be declining anytime soon," said Amburgey, who started studying amphibians when she was an undergraduate and master's degree student at Colorado State. "But having said that, it appears that populations in the southern portion of the wood frog's range are vulnerable if we have more hot, dry summers. Certainly frogs in the southern part of their range are more sensitive to hot years than frogs farther north, where the conditions will not push their physiological tolerances."
This study was novel because researchers did not simply document where wood frogs exist and where they do not, Amburgey explained. Instead, they analyzed reproduction rates by counting egg masses in spring pools to determine where the amphibian's populations were growing or declining -- trying to determine how each population was responding to year-to-year differences in climate.
Wood frogs are an ideal species to study to develop predictions about how animals will respond to warming conditions, Miller believes. They are cold-weather frogs with a range that extends farther north than other amphibians. As such, they have evolved with some amazing adaptations, not the least of which is the ability to survive freezing solid in winters.
"In a warming world, wood frogs at the southern end of their range may be in trouble," he said. "By freezing solid, they thrive as far north as Alaska. They spend winters near the surface, and they are one of the first species to come out when things thaw. Then they head immediately to small wetlands in the forest that tend to dry out during the summer to breed, and their tadpoles develop really quickly and get out into the woods early. They are an important part of our forested ecosystems in the Northeast and a truly unique species."
Related Precipitation Articles:
Two days of satellite imagery from the Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite showed that Dora, formerly a hurricane, went from generating moderate rainfall to barely any rainfall.
A new parameter, called potential deformation (PD), is used in a simulated mesoscale convective system (MCS) to examine its performance in precipitation diagnosis.
Over the past century, the Northeast has experienced an increase in the number of storms with extreme precipitation.
Storms associated with the advancing monsoon in the Northern Indian Ocean's Bay of Bengal were analyzed by NASA with the GPM or Global Precipitation Measurement mission core satellite.
An ETH study explores why the increase in extreme precipitation is not the same across every region.
The water sources for the many of the lakes in the Badain Jaran Desert have been the focus of controversy in recent years.
Studies of raindrop size distribution (DSD) over different regions helps to advance our understanding of DSD characteristics and provide observational facts regarding the development and evaluation of microphysical parameterization schemes in numerical models over different regions in the future.
Vertical wind shear can weaken a tropical cyclone and that's what's happening to the now weaker Tropical Depression Muifa in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean.
New research by the University of Montana and its partner institutions gives insight into how forests globally will respond to long-term climate change.
The Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) is a key tool--specifically, for studying precipitation over the region.
Related Precipitation Reading:
Precipitation (Blastoff! Readers: Understanding Weathers) (Understanding Weather: Blastoff Readers, Level 2)
by Kristin Schuetz (Author)
When you think of precipitation, rain may come to mind. Did you know that precipitation could be a solid, too? Whether rain, sleet, hail, or snow, all precipitate from the sky! Learn the facts about what falls from the clouds in this beginner book. View Details
Precipitation (Measuring the Weather)
by Alan Rodgers (Author), Angella Streluk (Author)
Provides an introduction to the different types of precipitation and explains how precipitation is related to weather. View Details
Precipitation (Weather Update)
by Terri Sievert (Author)
Provides an introduction to the different forms of precipitation including rain, snow, sleet, hail, and freezing rain, and explains how rain and snow are measured. View Details
Microphysics of Clouds and Precipitation (Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences Library)
by H.R. Pruppacher (Author), J.D. Klett (Author)
Cloud physics has achieved such a voluminous literature over the past few decades that a significant quantitative study of the entire field would prove unwieldy. This book concentrates on one major aspect: cloud microphysics, which involves the processes that lead to the formation of individual cloud and precipitation particles. Common practice has shown that one may distinguish among the following addi tional major aspects: cloud dynamics, which is concerned with the physics respon sible for the macroscopic features of clouds; cloud electricity, which deals with the electrical structure... View Details
Guidelines for Cloud Seeding to Augment Precipitation (ASCE Manual and Reports on Engineering Practice)
by Conrad G. Keyes (Author), Jr. (Author), George W. Bomar (Author), Thomas P. DeFelice (Author), Don A. Griffith (Author), Darin Langerud (Author)
Guidelines for Cloud Seeding to Augment Precipitation, Third Edition, supplies the practical details for implementing a cloud seeding project to enhance precipitation efficiency. This technology for atmospheric water management provides a cost-effective means for supplementing available water supplies and reducing damage caused by meteorological events. Cloud seeding offers determinable benefits, such as increased agricultural output and hydroelectric power production, salinity reduction, and strengthened ski industries, while also improving water supplies for fish and wildlife,... View Details
Types of Precipitation (Water All Around Us)
by Nadia Higgins (Author), Sara Infante (Illustrator), Erik Koskinen (Illustrator)
Kids learn about the four types of precipitation in a fun and lively way. Catchy lyrics introduce the concept of precipitation while colorful illustrations make learning about science fun. This paperback book comes with online music access. View Details
Physics and Dynamics of Clouds and Precipitation
by Pao K. Wang (Author)
This key new textbook provides a state-of-the-art view of the physics of cloud and precipitation formation, covering the most important topics in the field: the microphysics, thermodynamics and cloud-scale dynamics. Highlights include: the condensation process explained with new insights from chemical physics studies; the impact of the particle curvature (the Kelvin equation) and solute effect (the Köhler equation); homogeneous and heterogeneous nucleation from recent molecular dynamic simulations; and the hydrodynamics of falling hydrometeors and their impact on collision growth. 3D... View Details
What Is Precipitation? (Weather Close-Up)
by Robin Johnson (Author)
Introduces the different forms of precipitation, including rain, snow, and hail, and describes the water cycle and why it is important for the environment. View Details
Down Comes the Rain (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
by Dr. Franklyn M. Branley (Author), James Graham Hale (Illustrator)
After rain comes down, the sun comes out and dries the puddles. But the water isn't gone. The heat from the sun has turned it into water vapor-it has evaporated. Eventually, this moisture in the air condenses to form new clouds. Soon the rain will fall again. Read on to find out all the ups and downpours of the water cycle!View Details
We all know Caroline Bingley because the Bennet family suffered from her duplicity. Can such a woman ever be a heroine? In fact she struggled against obstacles which make Lizzy Bennet's vulgar relations appear trivial.'Superb! I have spent a leisurely and extremely enjoyable two days reading Precipitation... this was SO enjoyable I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed it.' View Details