Conservation initiatives in agricultural landscapes play an increasingly important role in ensuring the long-term persistence of amphibian biodiversity because native habitats continue to be lost to urban and commercial development. We examined larval anuran structure within seasonally inundated wetlands in four upland habitat types of southcentral Florida differing in degree of upland habitat modification for cattle ranching: native prairie at the Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary (KPS); and improved pasture, rangeland (semi-native prairie), and woodland habitats at the MacArthur Agro-Ecology Research Center (MAERC). We sampled 24 wetlands monthly for tadpoles using throw-traps and dipnets during the 1999 wet season (June–October), recording 10,126 tadpoles of 10 species. Species richness, mean total abundance, and species abundances differed among upland habitat types. The most heavily modified habitat (pasture) had both species-poor assemblages and low tadpole abundances. Species richness in woodland, rangeland, and native prairie wetlands were similar, but woodland wetlands had higher tadpole abundances. Wetlands in the four habitats differed in the amount of nearby woodland and wetland habitats, length of hydroperiod, and percent cover of aquatic vegetation, which likely contributed to the observed amphibian richness and abundance patterns. Cattle ranches in Florida that retain a large proportion of woodland, rangeland, and temporary wetlands in the landscape are likely to contribute significantly to amphibian conservation initiatives on protected native lands.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1