DNS Habitat assessment

Drew Allsopp 2013

Habitat Assessment
Executive summary
Bullfrogs (Rana Catesbieana) are a invasive species that are found all over the world And are on the list of the world most invasive species. They were first seen in 2009 on the Durango nature studies property. This could potentially e a pro lem for D!"# They have a healthy population of leopard

frogs ( Rana Pipiens) so if the ullfrogs came in large num ers it could potentially e detrimental to the leopard frog population. D!" wants ullfrogs to e removed from the property so that the leopard frog population stays sta le.

Animas high school traveled to the Durango nature studies property and conducted research a out the leopard frog population#the vegetation on the property# and data a out water $uality. These tests show the estimation of the leopard frog population and the conditions in which they live.

%n &une of '99( when the D!" property was ought )ust south of Durango. "ince then they have hosted school trips hi*ing wor*shops# summer programs and research opportunities to Durango# and the surrounding communities. They also partner with fort +ewis college and and other organi,ations. The D!" property is also under conservation easement so that they can continue to provided these things and conserve the wilderness.

D!" has a annual udget of '-.#/00. This money goes into anything that the D!" property needs %ncluding maintenance# ongoing studies and management.

Species overview
The northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) is usually 0.'1 9.0 centimeters long inches in length and is green or greenish rown with irregular spots running down its ac*. A very distinct thing a out Rana Pipiens is that it has fold of s*in that run from ehind its eye down its ac* towards its a domen.

The leopard frog lives in cool wet areas li*e ponds and slow moving rivers# that have sufficient vegetation and grasses with a height from several inches to a foot. They normally occur in upland in places ranging from the western united states to eastern canada ut only going south in the western united states ("mith 200-). The leopard frog tadpoles are *nown to e generalist her ivores# This means they will eat whatever plant1life fits in their mouth. 2nce fully grown they are generalist insectivores# they will eat all insects that fit in their mouths.But they have also een *nown to eat small animals such as smaller leopard frogs# small garter sna*es and ru y throated humming irds which is unusual (smith 200-). %n the fall season adult and non1adult frogs migrate to a overwinter location and hi ernate underwater in ponds#streams or rivers. %n the springs they leave their overwinter location and go to a reeding ha itat to lay eggs. This ha itat is usually a mid1si,ed pond that does not support fish. 3hen they lay eggs they lay etween 4-0142.2 eggs ("mith 200-) 5ana pipiens is not currently listed as threatened on the federal endangered species act. But they do have threats facing them such as ha itat lose their ha itat and travel paths to reeading grounds are eing fragmented so that the frogs cant get to their ha itats. They are also eing threatened y fish that are eing introduced and prey on the frogs. +astly they are threatened y a fungus that ullfrogs spread when they are introduced ("mith 200-).

The ullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) is native to the north eastern But has ecome a alien invasive species after it was introduced to over forty country6s over the last century. The American ullfrog ( Rana catesbieana) is now on the list of the top '00 worst alien invasive species. The ull frog is a large frog that ranges from '0 to '( centimeters in si,e. There ears are e7ternal and have a fold of s*in that the ear drum. The su adult Bullfrog eats mostly eat prey with that are inverte rates. But once fully grown they ecome generalist predators and will eat anything that fits in their mouths ("pit,en 20'2).

During the winter Rana catesbieana dives under water and goes into hi ernation until spring when the weather gets warmer. 2nce the area gets warmer they come out of hi ernation and mating calls will e heard till august. 8emale Rana catesbieana will produce up to 20#000# ut the larger the frog is the more eggs she will lay. Rana catesbieana is highly territorial especially during mating season. The Rana catesbieana threatens the ha itat of most native amphi ians such as the leopard frog ("pit,en 20'2).

Based on visual encounter surveys # involving a total of /. people hours found there to e an average of . seven leopard frogs on the northwest side of the D!" property in a section of the 8lorida river and in the pond. Based on the 9acroinverte rate data gathered the "hannon13iener inde7 shows that the iodiversity on the D!" property is sufficient. The :hosphate levels in the pond measured 0ppm and the river -ppm# which is considered high this can create a spi*e in a$uatic plant growth. The dissolved o7ygen levels in the pond is ..0 mg;+# which is normal and the river was inconclusive ecause recent rain storms made it too muddy. The p< levels in the pond and river were oth ( which is al*aline. The nitrate levels in the :ond were 'ppm and 2ppm in the river which means the water is unpolluted. =oliform tested positive for oth the river and the pond. Based on ( vegetation plots gathered# the "hannon13ieners inde7 was calculated to e './# which is sufficient.

Diversity in an ecosystem is essential for sta ility and overall sustaina ility of an ecosystem. %n order to $uantify diversity the "hannon13iener Diversity %nde7 was used# which is a widely accepted e$uation for diversity. Because marcoinverte rates are low on the energy pyramid and are relia le indicators of the presence of pollution in the water they were used to determine the diversity of the D!" property.

During the study there were no stoneflies found in the river or pond

ut there were '' caddis flies

found in the river and ' in the pond. This indicates that the water $uality was not ade$uate to support stoneflies ecause of the high phosphorus levels. The e7act reasons for the <igh phosphorus levels are un*nown ut heightened phosphorus levels are commonly caused y animal waste# pesticides#fertili,ers and detergents. 3hen the phosphorus levels are high such as they are an algal loom can occur. An algal loom is a dramatic increase in the plant life in a ody of water also creating heightened o7ygen levels and lots of dead a$uatic plants. The heightened dissolved o7ygen levels also allow for lots of animals to decompose the heightened plant life ut on they have depleted the plant1life the result is very little dissolved o7ygen and all life dieing in the ecosystem. This couldn6t happen in the river it is moving to $uic*ly ut in the D!" pond this could potentially happen. %f this happened it would e catastrophic for the pond it could potentially *ill all the life in the pond and y doing so potentially hurting the rest of the D!" property ecause the ha itat would not e diverse and the more diverse an ecosystem is the more sta le it is. The plants were studied ecause their the ase of the energy pyramid and they support other animals and inverte rates in the eco1system. %n conclusion ased on the shannon weiners inde7 the D!" property eco1system can e considered ade$uately diverse. %n the last three years although there have een ullfrogs sighted ut never caught y the animas high school data surveys. There are ullfrogs *nown to e on the D!" property# and the D!" staff have caught and disposed of them. Because of this the fact the D!" property needs to e monitored and managed so that the ullfrogs do not over power the native leopard and to promote the native leopard frogs instead of ullfrogs. According to colorado state law# >Bullfrogs may e ta*en y anyone in possession of a valid =olorado fishing license y means of fishing# archery# y hand# the use of gigs# and nets. Artificial light may e used while frogging(D23200')?. This means that the D!" staff may remove and *ill any Bullfrogs they find. To monitor ullfrogs you can do visual encounter surveys and mar*ing

each frog so that the average amount of frogs can e calculated such as the animas high school survey team did. By using animal friendly nets and wal*ing in a randomi,ed way. 2nce a frog is found in)ecting it under the s*in with a colorful non1to7ic su stance so that if the frog is found again it can made note of that the frog has een previously captured. This would e done if the frog caught is a leopard frog# if it is a ullfrog it will e removed from the property. This route does re$uire people surveying y hand which ta*es time which ma*es it time consuming and potentially e7pensive if the people conducting the survey are not volunteers. Another way to discover the appro7imate num er of frogs in the area is y trapping. A cylinder trap is e

composed of two inward facing funnels put together into a cylinder so that no frogs that get in can get out once they are inside. 2nce this is made this should e attached to a small line. The e7act date and time of the eginning of the o servations should e recorded# it should then e put in a ody of water with a sta*e in the sediment with the sta*e holding it in place and chec*ed once a at the same time for frogs(9.lam ert). This can also show the appro7imate amount of frogs in the same way that a visual encounter survey ut this survey will measure immature toads and frogs more than mature ones ut it

will still give data on the populations of ull frogs and leopard frogs so the visual encounter survey should e conducted for mature ullfrogs and leopard frogs and the traps should e used to survery immature ones. Based on the data gathered there is currently a si,a le population of leopard frogs on the D!" property and not many ullfrogs. This means that the frog population is healthy ut things could e done to improve the D!" property. '. =onduct regular surveys to assure the continued flourishing of the leopard frog populations. 2. The nitrogen levels should e regularly chec*ed to assure that they do not get higher to prevent a algal loom from occurring /. there should e testing done in the river to find if there is large amounts of fecal matter in the water to attempt to *eep nitrogen levels low. %f there is fecal matter D!" should raise awareness

a out the impact it could potentially have on their property. Based on the visual encounter surveys the estimated population of leopard frogs is 20 how ever the num er of frogs caught per session was different. All the data that is not estimated is all elow ten. This the average should e referenced instead of this num er ecause 20 is an outlier and not as accurate as the average is to show the frog population on the D!" property which is si7.