Nav: Home

Wood frogs research clarifies risks posed to animals by warming climate

August 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."
-end-
The Amphibian Decline Working Group supported by the U.S. Geological Survey's John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis supported this work.

Penn State

Related Precipitation Articles:

NASA observes Tropical Storm Dora dissipating rapidly
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.
Forecasting strong precipitation -- the potential of potential deformation
A new parameter, called potential deformation (PD), is used in a simulated mesoscale convective system (MCS) to examine its performance in precipitation diagnosis.
Dartmouth-led study finds heavier precipitation in the northeast began in 1996
Over the past century, the Northeast has experienced an increase in the number of storms with extreme precipitation.
NASA sees powerful storms with advancing monsoon in Bay of Bengal
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.
Understanding changes in extreme precipitation
An ETH study explores why the increase in extreme precipitation is not the same across every region.
Lake water recharged by atmospheric precipitation in the Badain Jaran Desert
The water sources for the many of the lakes in the Badain Jaran Desert have been the focus of controversy in recent years.
Microphysical differences in precipitation between Tibet and southern China
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.
NASA sees vertical wind shear affecting Tropical Storm Muifa
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.
University of Montana researcher: Heavy precipitation speeds carbon exchange in tropics
New research by the University of Montana and its partner institutions gives insight into how forests globally will respond to long-term climate change.
Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System precipitation products prove to be reliable
The Antarctic Mesoscale Prediction System (AMPS) is a key tool--specifically, for studying precipitation over the region.

Related Precipitation Reading:

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


What is Precipitation? (Weather Close-Up)
by Robin Johnson (Author)

From gentle showers to heavy downpours and slow flurries to hail, this appealing title will be a hit with readers rain or shine! Readers will learn the basic concepts of the water cycle, the features of different kinds of precipitation, and the role temperature has in determining what falls form our clouds. View Details


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


Pride and Precipitation (Chick Flick Clique Romantic Comedy #1)
by Word Garden Press



PG-RATED FUN that's been professionally edited.
Pride and Precipitation is #1 of the Chick Flick Clique romantic comedy series and Book #2 is Regally Blonde.

Written by USA Today Bestselling Author Heather Horrocks.

PRIDE AND PRECIPITATION (Chick Flick Clique #1)

Breezy Jones is crazy about the weather, rain or shine, which makes her job as the local television station’s meteorologist perfect. She’s even hoping the new buyers of her Aspen Grove station will make some positive changes.

That’s before she meets the... View Details


Precipitations: Contemporary American Poetry as Occult Practice
by Devin Johnston (Author)

Precipitations traces the influence of the occult on contemporary American poetry and positions it within the larger tradition of Romanticism. Devin Johnston focuses on the works of H.D., Robert Duncan and James Merrill, as well as Susan Howe and Nathaniel Mackey, to show how the occult, in its resistance to dialectical thinking, proved attractive to these poets and offered a means by which traditional notions of authorship could be challenged. Johnston argues that for these writers, "the poem is not produced by the individual mind, but precipitates out of a complex network of shared... 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


Precipitation (Focus on Water Science)
by Frances Purslow (Author)

In this series, readers are introduced to the science behind Earths water. A combination of vibrant photography and interesting text encourage readers to learn more about water science. View Details


Precipitation (Crack the Whip Book 5)

In a world where a strict caste system raises some men to power while predestining others to be forever slaves, Antonio has spent his life chafing under the restrictions he was born to. No Master has been able to control him…

His new Master, Cedrick, is a powerful figure, but had never chosen to take a slave for his own... Until Antonio, whose willful ways fascinate as much as they provoke.

Will Antonio prove to be too much for even Cedrick? Or has the willful pet finally met his match? View Details


Clouds in the Perturbed Climate System: Their Relationship to Energy Balance, Atmospheric Dynamics, and Precipitation (Strüngmann Forum Reports)
by Jost Heintzenberg (Editor), Robert J. Charlson (Editor)

Experts consider the many roles that clouds play in the the changing climate--one of the least understood and most puzzling aspects of atmospheric science.

More than half the globe is covered by visible clouds. Clouds control major parts of the Earth's energy balance, influencing both incoming shortwave solar radiation and outgoing longwave thermal radiation. Latent heating and cooling related to cloud processes modify atmospheric circulation, and, by modulating sea surface temperatures, clouds affect the oceanic circulation. Clouds are also an essential component of the... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."