Changing climate will impact species’ ranges only when environmental variability directly impacts the demography of local populations. However, measurement of demographic responses to climate change has largely been limited to single species and locations. Here we show that amphibian communities are responsive to climatic variability, using > 500,000 time-series observations for 81 species across 86 North American study areas. The effect of climate on local colonization and persistence probabilities varies among eco-regions and depends on local climate, species life-histories, and taxonomic classification. We found that local species richness is most sensitive to changes in water availability during breeding and changes in winter conditions. Based on the relationships we measure, recent changes in climate cannot explain why local species richness of North American amphibians has rapidly declined. However, changing climate does explain why some populations are declining faster than others. Our results provide important insights into how amphibians respond to climate and a general framework for measuring climate impacts on species richness.

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Published in Nature Communications, v. 9, article no. 3926, p. 1-15.

© The Author(s) 2018

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Due to the large number of authors, only the first 30 and the authors affiliated with the University of Kentucky are listed in the author section above. For the complete list of authors, please download this article or visit: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-06157-6

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Funding Information

This work was conducted as part of the Amphibian Decline Working Group supported by the John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis, funded by the US Geological Survey. Funding and logistical support for field data collection came from a range of sources including the U.S. Geological Survey—Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Science Foundation (DEB-0841758, DEB-1149308), National Institutes of Health (R01GM109499), National Geographic Society, Morris Animal Foundation, and David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

Related Content

All data used in analysis available in public repositories or upon request. Climate data come from publicly available repositories maintained by other research groups (PRISM - http://prism.oregonstate.edu; Wang et al. 2009). Amphibian encounter data along with associated covariate data used in analysis is archived using Dryad (doi:10.5061/dryad.jt089hg). Location data for individual sites is not included because threatened and endangered species are included in the data set. However, information can be provided by directly contacting the authors. Species trait data can be found in the Supplementary Data 2.

Data are deposited at the U.S. Geological Survey’s John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis.

Supplementary Information accompanies this paper at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-06157-6.

41467_2018_6157_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1201 kB)
Supplementary Information

41467_2018_6157_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (169 kB)
Description of Additional Supplementary Files

41467_2018_6157_MOESM3_ESM.txt (2 kB)
Supplementary Dataset 1

41467_2018_6157_MOESM4_ESM.csv (4 kB)
Supplementary Dataset 2

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Supplementary Dataset 3