Evaluation of anuran persistence in an urbanized drought-affected setting in the Southern High Plains
Urbanization, due to associated habitat degradation and fragmentation, is threatening amphibian survival worldwide. Mitigating urban amphibian declines is critical for amphibian conservation and requires understanding of amphibian life-histories and their use of urban landscapes. Since amphibian monitoring is non-existent in urban centers of the Southern High Plains, I conducted amphibian surveys in 2011 and 2012 in the city of Lubbock, west Texas, to establish fundamental baseline data regarding amphibian species occurring within the city, and evaluated site-suitability at site-specific and landscape scales at 23 urban lakes. While droughts are a recurring phenomenon here, the year 2011 broke past records for drought intensity and severity. I observed greater species richness and incidence of amphibian occurrence in 2012 which was relatively wetter; Bufonids (Anaxyrus speciosus and A. cognatus) were the most widespread. Using data from the drought, I attempted to establish a simple method to base management recommendations in the event of data scarcities associated with natural climatic extremes. This was used to create a preliminary grouping of lakes in order of amphibian management priority and level of management effort, thus emphasizing the importance of data gathered under drought conditions towards amphibian management efforts in the region.