Agricultural land use may indirectly affect the body size of amphibians by altering the hydroperiods of nearby wetlands and influencing amphibian densities—both factors which can limit the larval and postmetamorphic growth rates of amphibians. We measured postmetamorphic body size for 4 species (Spea multiplicata, S. bombifrons, Bufo cognatus, Ambystoma tigrinum mavortium) and 3 age classes (metamorph, subadult, adult) of amphibians captured at playa wetlands surrounded by one of 2 general land-use types (cultivation, grassland) in the Southern High Plains. Sixteen playas (4 per land-use type in 1999 and 2000) were partially enclosed with drift fence and pitfall traps, and mass and snout-vent length (SVL) were measured from a subsample of captured individuals. Mass and SVL were 10–148% greater for amphibians captured at grassland wetlands than at cropland wetlands for most species and age classes. Mass and SVL also were 3–124% greater in 1999 than in 2000 for most species and age classes. We attribute differences in body size between land-use types to differences in the hydroperiods of the associated wetlands, and potentially to variation in the density of terrestrial conspecifics and aquatic predators. We attribute differences in body size between years to differences in rainfall. Body size is positively related to the probability of survival, reproduction, and evolutionary fitness in amphibians. Thus, if cultivation of landscapes surrounding wetlands negatively influences postmetamorphic body size of amphibians, restoration of native grasslands surrounding playa wetlands may help prevent local amphibian declines.
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Vol. 69 • No. 2