Assessing detection probabilities of larval amphibians and macroinvertebrates in isolated ponds

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Isolated ponds provide vital habitat for an array of vertebrates and invertebrates. Given the potential decline in protection of isolated ponds and the increase in urbanization in northeastern North America, knowledge of the condition of this aquatic resource is essential for developing revisions to existing regulations, conservation efforts, and restoration initiatives. We were interested in the ability of rapid assessment methods, which require only one site visit, to estimate the condition of isolated ponds. During 2008, we conducted dip-net surveys at 10-day intervals from mid-May to late July 2008 at each of 36 isolated ponds in Rhode Island. We calculated detection probabilities for larval amphibian species and predatory macroinvertebrate families and assessed factors influencing detection probabilities. Most taxa displayed distinct seasonal phenologies in detection probabilities. Pond depth and vegetative characteristics also influenced detection probabilities of many taxa. Based on seasonal variation in detection probabilities, rapid assessment methods would not be effective to monitor overall biodiversity of isolated ponds in southern New England. Rather, multiple visits would be required to estimate occupancy rates of pondbreeding amphibians or aquatic macroinvertebrates if they were used as ecological indicators of pond condition. © Society of Wetland Scientists 2010.

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