Historically, bison were of great importance to the grassland ecosystem, affecting plants and other organisms directly through grazing and indirectly by creating soil disturbances, such as wallows. When bison were reintroduced to the Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas, they reactivated relic wallows as well as created new ones. Wallows, like other ephemeral pools, may be used by organisms as aquatic habitat and as breeding sites. The objective of our study was to systematically monitor bison wallows after they filled and to ascertain their use by amphibians. We also examined long-term climatic records from the Konza Prairie area to assess the past viability of bison wallows as breeding habitats for anurans, which must complete metamorphosis before wallows dry. The amount of precipitation and cool temperatures required to prolong the hydroperiod necessary for completion of metamorphosis occurred in only about 20% of the years examined. Bison may have been important in the life histories of prairie anurans by creating “pools” in the form of wallows that could be used as breeding sites. However, more information about the life history of individual species of anurans is needed before viability of bison wallows as a breeding habitat can be determined.
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Vol. 150 • No. 1