Aquatic habitat use by amphibians with specific reference to Rana temporaria at high elevations (Retezat Mountains National Park, Romania)

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  • Dan Cogǎlniceanu
  • Raluca Bǎncilǎ
  • Rodica Plǎiaşu
  • Ciprian Samoilǎ
  • Tibor Hartel

Alpine areas are extreme habitats that require special adaptations and involve major trade-offs in terms of life history. Amphibians have the ability to adapt both their life history and developmental traits to alpine environments. Temperate amphibians depend on the quality and availability of aquatic habitats for reproduction. We explored the aquatic habitat used by amphibians in the alpine area of Retezat Mountains, Southern Carpathians, Romania. We surveyed 40 aquatic habitats in a 380 ha area delimited by mountain crests and drained by a steep valley. Each aquatic habitat was characterized using 10 environmental variables. Only three amphibian species occur at elevations above 1900 m, the most widespread being the Common Frog Rana temporaria. The Common Frog showed preference for breeding aquatic habitats, the variables of importance being altitude, solar radiation, water chemistry and grazing. Higher elevation and lower solar radiation decreased frog occurrence, while the impact of grazing favored the use of water bodies. Acidification is eminent in the area with pH dropping below 5 in 20% of the water bodies. Overall, amphibian occurrence in alpine area can be partly explained by the characteristics of aquatic habitats.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Limnology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2012

Bibliographical note

Access in the area was granted by the Romanian Academy, Commission for Nature Conservation, while the Park Administration provided lodging. Funding was
provided by CNCSIS grant 1114/2004 to D.C. The research stay of TH in Germany was supported by Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Dr Mihai Vaˆ lcu provided helpful comments on data analysis. The manuscript benefited greatly from the comments of Dr Marc Mazerolle and two anonymous reviewers. We thank
Dr Daniela Strat, Alexandru Coga ̆ lniceanu and Demeter La ́ szlo ́ for help during fieldwork.

    Research areas

  • Ecosystems Research - Alpine, Carpathian Mountains, Habitat use, Rana temporaria, Reproduction