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J Anim Ecol February 19, 2021;

Land cover, individual''s age and spatial sorting shape landscape resistance in the invasive frog Xenopus laevis.

Vimercati G , Kruger N , Secondi J .

The description of functional connectivity is based on the quantification of landscape resistance, which represents species-specific movement costs across landscape features. Connectivity models use these costs to identify movement corridors at both individual and population levels and provide management recommendations for populations of conservation interest. Typically, resistance costs assigned to specific land cover types are assumed to be valid for all individuals of the population. Little attention has been paid to intraspecific variation in resistance costs due to age or dispersal syndrome, which may significantly affect model predictions. We quantified resistance costs in an expanding invasive population of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis in Western France. In this principally aquatic amphibian, juveniles, sub-adults and adults disperse overland. The enhancement of dispersal traits via spatial sorting has been also observed at the range periphery of the population. Resistance costs, and thus connectivity, might vary as a function of life stage and position within the invaded range. We assessed multiple dimensions of functional connectivity. On various land cover types, we measured locomotion, as crossing speed, in different post-metamorphic age classes, and dehydration, sensitivity of locomotion to dehydration and substrate preference in juveniles. We also tested the effect of the position in the invaded range (core vs. periphery) on individual performances. In juveniles, general trends towards higher resistance costs on grass and lower resistance costs on bare soil and asphalt were observed, although not all experiments provided the same cost configurations. Resistance to locomotion varied between age classes, with adults and sub-adults facing lower costs than juveniles, particularly when crossing structurally complex land cover types such as grass and leaf litter. The position in the range had a minor effect on landscape resistance, and only in the dehydration experiment, where water loss in juveniles was lower at the range periphery. Depicting functional connectivity requires (a) assessing multiple dimensions of behavioural and physiological challenges faced by animals during movement; (b) considering factors, such as age and dispersal syndrome, that may affect movement at both individual and population levels. Ignoring this complexity might generate unreliable connectivity models and provide unsupported management recommendations for conservation.

PubMed ID: 33608946
Article link: J Anim Ecol
Grant support: [+]