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Hydrologic Studies Supporting the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative

USGS technicians installing a pressure transducer in a pond.
USGS technicians installing a pressure transducer in a pond in the Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge, FL (circa 2004). Hydraulic data provides the framework for the analysis of amphibian population data.

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The Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) is a multi-agency, Department of the Interior (DOI) initiative with the objectives of (1) starting long-term monitoring to determine trends in amphibian populations, (2) conducting research into causes of amphibian declines and malformations, and (3) making information on amphibians such as the National Atlas for Amphibian Distributions available to land managers and the public. There is a need to link amphibian population studies with hydrologic investigations that can characterize natural habitat suitability, determine the vulnerability of habitat to chemical stressors, and evaluate the role of climatic variability on amphibian populations.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey's Toxic Substances Hydrology (Toxics) Program are participating in ARMI. Toxics Program scientists from across the Nation are participating in monitoring and research studies and program coordination with their Biological Resources Discipline (BRD) counterparts. For each of the seven ARMI regions, a hydrologist is collaborating with a BRD herpetologist. The hydrologist provides local expertise on hydrology and water quality of the region, and provides information on hydrologic and water-quality factors that can be use to assist with assessments and research on amphibian population status and trends. Toxics Program contributions to the ARMI have included characterizing climate patterns that indicate stress on amphibian populations, characterizing water quantity and quality factors that affect the habitat of various amphibian species across the Nation, developing PCR tools for testing of water and sediment for the presence of Bd (Batrachochytrium dendrobatids), a type of chytrid fungus that has been implicated in amphibian declines on five continents, and testing the potential role of pesticide contamination on amphibian declines and deformities.

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