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Title:Farm ponds of the eastern Great Plains: Key challenges and opportunities for conserving amphibians in these novel ecosystems
Author(s):Swartz, Timothy M.
Advisor(s):Miller, James R.
Contributor(s):Schooley, Robert; Phillips, Christopher
Department / Program:Natural Res & Env Sci
Discipline:Natural Res & Env Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:M.S.
Genre:Thesis
Subject(s):farm ponds
novel ecosystems
amphibians
conservation
working landscapes
pondscapes
Abstract:Farm ponds are numerous in the agricultural landscapes of the Eastern Great Plains of the United States. These ponds are constructed to support a variety of functions, including erosion control, cattle grazing, and recreational fishing, but their role in supporting native biodiversity, including amphibians, remains poorly understood. In addition, it is unclear how farm ponds fit into existing frameworks of restoration and conservation. Despite their abundance, there are no large-scale initiatives in place to enhance the biodiversity value of farm ponds in the United States. Emerging frameworks like the novel ecosystems concept could provide a path forward for farm pond conservation, but the concept remains controversial and its applicability largely untested. Consequently, my goal was to address both the ecological and philosophical aspects of farm ponds as refuges for biodiversity in agricultural landscapes. First, I sought to identify the important biophysical components of amphibian breeding habitat in farm ponds and assess the species-specific effects of cattle and fish presence. I then used a chronosequence approach to determine whether pond renovation, which often occurs when ponds are 35 years old, threatens the development of amphibian habitat. I found that farm ponds support amphibian reproduction, but habitat use varied by species, underscoring the importance of species-specific approaches. In addition, pond renovation threatens the development of pH, pond slope, and emergent vegetation conditions predictive of amphibian breeding. Moving forward, it will be important to develop ecological and conceptual approaches to balance the agricultural and biodiversity values of these sites. By enabling us to explicitly acknowledge the anthropogenic nature of farm ponds without disregarding them as ‘degraded’, the novel ecosystems concept provides a framework for articulating the conservation value of these ecosystems.
Issue Date:2018-07-10
Type:Text
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/101803
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Timothy Swartz
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-27
Date Deposited:2018-08


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