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Title: Evaluation of episodic acidification and amphibian declines in the Rocky Mountains

Author: Vertucci, Frank A.; Corn, Paul Stephen;

Date: 1996

Source: Ecological Applications. 6(2): 449-457.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: We define criteria for documenting episodic acidification of amphibian breeding habitats and examine whether episodic acidification is responsible for observed declines of amphibian populations in the Rocky Mountains. Anthropogenic episodic acidification, caused by atmospheric deposition of sulfate and nitrate, occurs when the concentration of acid anions increases relative to the concentration of base cations, resulting in a decrease in acid-neutralizing capacity (ANC). However, because several natural processes can also depress ANC, monitoring pH and ANC alone cannot provide evidence that episodic acidification of amphibian habitats is anthropogenic. We examined published data on water chemistry from central Colorado and southern Wyoming for evidence of episodic acidification, and we also compared original water chemistry data to observations of amphibian breeding phenology at three sites in northern Colorado. There is limited evidence that anthropogenic episodic acidification may occur in high-elevation habitats in the Rocky Mountains, but there is no evidence that episodic acidification has led to acidic conditions (ANC < 0) or that amphibian embryos are present during the initial phase of snowmelt when episodic acidification might occur. The declines of some amphibian species in the Rocky Mountains are more likely due either to natural or anthropogenic factors other than acidic deposition.

Keywords: acid-neutralizing capacity, acidification, Ambystoma tigrinum, amphibians, Bufo boreas, Colorado, declining amphibians, episodic acidification, Pseudacris triseriata, Rana sylvatica, snowmelt, Wyoming

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Vertucci, Frank A.; Corn, Paul Stephen. 1996. Evaluation of episodic acidification and amphibian declines in the Rocky Mountains. Ecological Applications. 6(2): 449-457.


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