Quantifying climate sensitivity and climate-driven change in North American amphibian communities

David A.W. Miller, Evan H.Campbell Grant, Erin Muths, Staci M. Amburgey, Michael J. Adams, Maxwell B. Joseph, J. Hardin Waddle, Pieter T.J. Johnson, Maureen E. Ryan, Benedikt R. Schmidt, Daniel L. Calhoun, Courtney L. Davis, Robert N. Fisher, David M. Green, Blake R. Hossack, Tracy A.G. Rittenhouse, Susan C. Walls, Larissa L. Bailey, Sam S. Cruickshank, Gary M. FellersThomas A. Gorman, Carola A. Haas, Ward Hughson, David S. Pilliod, Steven J. Price, Andrew M. Ray, Walt Sadinski, Daniel Saenz, William J. Barichivich, Adrianne Brand, Cheryl S. Brehme, Rosi Dagit, Katy S. Delaney, Brad M. Glorioso, Lee B. Kats, Patrick M. Kleeman, Christopher A. Pearl, Carlton J. Rochester, Seth P.D. Riley, Mark Roth, Brent H. Sigafus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3926
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Bibliographical note

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. Data are deposited at the U.S. Geological Survey’s John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis. This manuscript is contribution 654 of USGS ARMI. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)


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