Zoological Studies

Vol. 55, 2016

(update: 2016.10.26)

Can Protected Areas with Agricultural Edges Avoid Invasions? The Case of Bullfrogs in the Southern Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil

Bruno Madalozzo*, Camila Both, and Sonia Cechin

Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade Animal, Centro de Ciências Naturais e Exatas, Departamento de Ecologia e Evolução, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Av. Roraima s/ n°, Camobi, CEP 97105-900, Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. E-mail: camilaboth@gmail.com; soniacechin@gmail.com

(Received 16 February; Accepted 11 October 2016)

Bruno Madalozzo, Camila Both, and Sonia Cechin (2016) The American bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus, is one of the 100 most harmful invasive species of the planet. Climatic and topographic models predict that the Atlantic Forest regions of southern Brazil are favorable for the establishment of invasive bullfrog populations. The predicted increase of temperature and concentration of gases associated with the greenhouse effect will augment the vulnerability of protected areas of the Atlantic forest to bullfrog invasions in the coming years. In this study we investigated to what extent protected areas of the Atlantic Forest surrounded by anthropogenic landscapes are vulnerable to bullfrog invasions. We conducted surveys in 36 waterbodies located either in a protected area or in anthropogenically modified adjacent locations on a forest-edge-agriculture gradient. We collected data on abundance and breeding to identify the main descriptors (local and landscape variables) that explain the distribution of bullfrogs along this gradient. The variance partitioning analysis showed a strongest association of bullfrog abundance with local waterbody descriptors (area-depth-hydroperiod) and secondarily with a forest-edge-agriculture gradient, i.e., the landscape. The observed distribution pattern suggests that protected areas are likely to be invaded by bullfrogs. Therefore, management strategies should focus on both scales: landscape and waterbody. Supervising the construction of large (permanent or deep) waterbodies in edge habitats of the park and adjacent areas can be effective and agriculture and forest management could importantly complement the prevention of invasions.

Key words: Invasive species, Lithobates catesbeianus, Conservation unit, Edge effect, Brazil.

*Correspondence: bmadal@gmail.com

Vol. 55, 2016