Tracking habitat use by boreal toads in disturbed forest on the boreal plain in Alberta
SubjectBoreal anurans of Central Alberta
Radio-transmitter attachment techniques
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Radio-telemetry is an effective way of collecting detailed information on the behaviour of a great many species. However, the presence of the radio-transmitter may influence the behaviour of the subject, an effect for which one cannot necessarily control. I examined the relative impact of two common radio-transmitter attachment techniques (waistband harness and surgical implantation) on Wood Frogs and Boreal Toads to determine their efficacy for these species. The acute stress of surgical implantation appeared to have less impact than the chronic stress of the waistband harnesses, but logistic constraints limited their usefulness for monitoring Boreal Toad movements. Radio-telemetry provided the means of identifying Boreal Toad refuge microsites, which likely represent a critical resource for the persistence of the species. Refugia provided favourable microclimates with elevated relative humidity compared to the surrounding habitat. Boreal Toads tended to forage at night within 15 m from refugia. This distance was used to calculate activity centres across toad summer home ranges. This approach can be used to pinpoint critical habitat at the landscape scale, which may be of particular importance for conserving populations currently in decline.
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