Effects of River-Flow Regulation on Anuran Occupancy and Abundance in Riparian Zones

Evan A. Eskew, Steven J. Price, Michael E. Dorcas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The natural flow regimes of rivers worldwide have been heavily altered through anthropogenic activities, and dams in particular have a pervasive effect on riverine ecosystems. Flow-regulation effects of dams negatively affect species diversity and abundance of a variety of aquatic animals, including invertebrates and fishes. However, the effects on semiaquatic animals are relatively unknown. We conducted anuran calling surveys at 42 study locations along the Broad and Pacolet Rivers in South Carolina to address the potential effects of flow regulation by damming on anuran occupancy and abundance. We estimated occupancy and abundance with Program PRESENCE. Models incorporated distance upstream and downstream from the nearest dam as covariates and urbanization pressure as an alternative stressor. Distance from dam was associated with occupancy of 2 of the 9 anuran species in our analyses and with abundance of 6 species. In all cases, distance downstream from nearest dam was a better predictor of occupancy and abundance than distance upstream from nearest dam. For all but one species, distance downstream from nearest dam was positively correlated with both occupancy and abundance. Reduced occupancy and abundance of anurans likely resulted from downstream alterations in flow regime associated with damming, which can lead to reduced area of riparian wetlands that serve as anuran breeding habitat. Our results showed that damming has a strong negative effect on multiple anuran species across large spatial extents and suggest that flow regulation can affect semiaquatic animals occupying riparian zones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-512
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Amphibian
  • Broad River
  • Damming
  • Flow regime
  • Rivers
  • South Carolina
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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