Jennifer C Rowe, Lisa Wilson-Romine, Jason Romine
Northwestern Naturalist 102 (1), 55-75, (9 March 2021) https://doi.org/10.1898/1051-1733-102.1.55
KEYWORDS: American bullfrog, amphibians, habitat management, invasive species, Lithobates catesbeianus, movement, Oregon Spotted Frog, overwintering, radiotelemetry, Rana catesbeiana, Rana pretiosa
Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge (CLNWR) in Washington State supports one of the largest remaining populations of federally listed Oregon Spotted Frogs (OSF; Rana pretiosa). Invasive American Bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus [Rana catesbeiana]), implicated in amphibian declines, are also abundant at CLNWR. Owing to the likely negative effect of this aquatic invader on the highly aquatic OSF, bullfrog control strategies are needed. One method is to limit habitat used by bullfrogs while retaining or enhancing OSF habitat, but for such an approach to be implemented, the 2 species must partition habitat sufficiently. We used radiotelemetry to characterize OSF and bullfrog active-season and pre-overwintering habitat in the human-engineered ditch system at CLNWR. We tracked 12 OSF and 10 bullfrogs from mid-to-late summer, recorded data on frog location and habitat, and analyzed movement patterns, niche breadth, and spatial differences between species. Based on minimum convex polygons, bullfrogs overlapped extensively with OSF habitat space in the ditch system. During the active season, niche analyses also showed extensive overlap in the species' vegetation associations, with selected exceptions at the microhabitat scale. However, each species used distinct pre-overwintering habitats. The small differences in active-season microhabitats and pre-overwintering habitats, and our relatively narrow study conditions, create uncertainty about these species' habitat use in a broader context. Nonetheless, these results underscore the challenge of managing an invasive species that is both a habitat generalist and congener and expose the need for further research to guide management approaches to favor OSFs at CLNWR.