Our objective was to examine breeding dispersal, burrow-use characteristics, and burrow habitat selection by Crawfish Frogs (Lithobates areolatus) in two distinct vegetation types (open grasslands and a mosaic of forest and transitioning grasslands) in southeastern Indiana, from March to August 2009 and 2010. We captured 14 frogs at their breeding ponds and tracked them to their burrows using radio telemetry. Once we identified their burrows, we compared habitat metrics at the burrows to random locations. We used an information-theoretic model selection approach to approximate the parsimony of logistic regression models comparing the habitat features of burrows to random, available sites. Frogs dispersed a straight-line average distance of 215 m and used an average of four burrows. They generally did not change burrows after June. Our top model included covariates for the number of burrows, canopy cover, and a site covariate. Our results suggested that habitat selection by Crawfish Frogs occurred hierarchically; in mixed grassland/forest habitats, they first selected areas with low canopy cover, and then selected areas with many available burrows. To manage habitat for Crawfish Frogs, we recommend preventing woody encroachment and reducing canopy cover in grassland areas occupied by Crawfish Frogs. Additionally, areas with a large number of burrows appear to provide the most suitable Crawfish Frog habitat.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4