Amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders, are suffering greatly from climate change and other outside impacts. Invasive species, such as non-native fish being introduced in the American West's mountainous areas, are further impacting native amphibians.
"Amphibians predominantly use mountainous areas' small, shallow ponds to breed and feed," said Maureen Ryan, one of the researchers, in a news release. "These kinds of wetlands are at the highest risk of drying up under climate change due to reduced snowpack and longer summer droughts. Non-native fish, such as brook and rainbow trout, were introduced for recreational fishing almost a century ago. They remove amphibians from the biggest and most stable lakes in the environment. Fish eat most amphibians and even at low densities can devour a lake's whole amphibian population."
In order to find out ways to help these species, the researchers developed new maps and hydrological models of climate impacts specific to mountainous regions. Using these tools, the scientists identified regions where native species are most threatened by climate change and fish. They hope that once they find these areas, they can begin removing fish.
"Our work suggests that removing fish from strategic sites may restore resilience to landscapes where inaction might lead to tipping points of species loss," said Wendy Palen, one of the researchers, in a news release. "We hope newly developed wetland modeling tools can improve climate adaptation action plans so that intact ecosystems persist in the face of a changing climate."
While the climate may be changing, there are ways to help curtail the impacts, and this latest study shows just that. By taking steps, we can help preserve ecosystems for the future.