Exploring the Impacts of Urbanization and Aquatic Pollutants on Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) Populations in Southeastern Wisconsin
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Amphibians are crucial pieces of the aquatic ecosystem, shuttling nutrients to higher trophic levels and providing energy to other species. However, in light of global amphibian decline and climate change, many amphibian species are disappearing. The northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens) is one of these species. The purpose of this study was to better understand the impacts that urbanization may be having on L. pipiens, especially where water quality and aquatic pollutants are concerned. Human population density per km2 was used to represent the degree of urbanization while nutrient pollutants (phosphates and nitrates), specific conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and pH were used to analyze the impact that urbanization may be having on L. pipiens populations. Throughout the course of this study, L. pipiens was only identified at 1 of 5 sample locations. Thus, the results indicate that although L. pipiens is sensitive to degrading water quality, the species may be more sensitive to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and the resulting population growth of the green frog (Lithobates clamitans), a generalist species and common predator of L. pipiens.