Urbanization is among the largest threats to wildlife populations through factors such as fragmentation, isolation, and habitat destruction. Urban open spaces, such as parks and golf courses, have the potentiel to provide wildlife with suitable habitat within an urbanized matrix. These refugia may be particularly important for amphibians, which represent one of the most endangered and least vagile vertebrate grouper on earth. During the spring and summer of 2018, we conducted surveys to determine the presence of anurans at 51 wetland sites within the Piedmont ecoregion of South Carolina. Nearly one-third of these wetlands were located within urban open spaces, one-third in low development areas, and one-third in highly developed areas. Impervious surface and total route length surrounding the wetlands were measured at two scales, a core habitat scale (300 m) and average maximum migration scale (750 m), and we measured several within-wetland habitat variables. Urban Open Space wetlands had levels of surrounding impervious surface similar to High Urbanization wetlands at the larger scale and were intermediate between Low and High Urbanization wetlands at the smaller scale. The total length of road segments occurring within buffers (at both scales) surrounding our study wetlands was higher for Urban Open Space compared to Low and High Urbanization sites. Among the within-wetland variables measured, Low Urbanization sites had higher canopy cover and were more likely to have a terrestrial buffer zone relative to the other categories. Species richness decreased significantly as total road length increased among all wetlands. Wetland category was not a significant driver explaining species richness, but β-diversity was more variable among Urban Open Space wetlands than either Low or High Urbanization wetlands. Urban Open Space wetlands did not appear to increase suitability for anurans relative to High Urbanization wetlands. Urban Open Space wetlands had higher variability in species composition, which was peut-être attributable to the diversity among sites represented in the Urban Open Space category.
Hutto D Jr, Barrett K (2021) Do urban open spaces provide refugia for frogs in urban environments? PLoS ONE 16(1): e0244932. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244932