Activity Response to Climate Seasonality in Species with Fossorial Habits: A Niche Modeling Approach Using the Lowland Burrowing Treefrog (Smilisca fodiens)
Carlos A. Navas
The importance of climatic conditions in shaping the geographic distribution of amphibian species is mainly associated to their high sensitivity to environmental conditions. How they cope with climate gradients through behavioral adaptations throughout their distribution is an important issue due to the ecological and evolutionary implications for population viability. Given their low dispersal abilities, the response to seasonal climate changes may not be migration, but behavioral and physiological adaptations. Here we tested whether shifts in climatic seasonality can predict the temporal variation of surface activity of the fossorial Lowland Burrowing Treefrog (Smilisca fodiens) across its geographical distribution. We employed Ecological Niche Modeling (ENM) to perform a monthly analysis of spatial variation of suitable climatic conditions (defined by the July conditions, the month of greatest activity), and then evaluated the geographical correspondence of monthly projections with the occurrence data per month. We found that the species activity, based on the species’ occurrence data, corresponds with the latitudinal variation of suitable climatic conditions. Due to the behavioral response of this fossorial frog to seasonal climate variation, we suggest that precipitation and temperature have played a major role in the definition of geographical and temporal distribution patterns, as well as in shaping behavioral adaptations to local climatic conditions. This highlights the influence of macroclimate on shaping activity patterns and the important role of fossorials habits to meet the environmental requirements necessary for survival.