German Journal of Herpetology

Su, J., M. Han, X. Zhu, C. Liao, S. Tu & Z. Luo

In Issues 2020

Habitat selection of the Asiatic toad (Bufo gargarizans) during hibernation in the Badagongshan National Nature Reserve, central China. pp. 16-26

Abstract. Habitat selection refers to animals’ choices and preferences relative to environmental conditions. Animals may select habitats based on external conditions such as climate, topographic traits, vegetation conditions, resource abundance, and human impacts. It also may be influenced by factors such as predator avoidance or an individual’s physiological status. Identification of a species’ essential habitat requirements is a fundamental component in understanding its ecology and conducting population management. Poikilothermic species, including amphibians, which experience harsh winter conditions, usually have strict requirements for hibernacula to ensure suitable conditions and promote their overwintering survival. To explore habitat utilization during hibernation by the Asiatic toad (Bufo gargarizans), we carried out field investigations in the Badagongshan National Nature Reserve, central China. We detected several ecological factors impacting on habitat selection and analysed the different degrees of preference exhibited by the toads. Based on an informationtheoretic method and resource selection functions, our results revealed that distance to the nearest breeding pond, landuse type, soil texture, mean height of herbaceous plants, slope, and slope position were the main factors determining the hibernation habitat selection of B. gargarizans. The toads preferred croplands and vegetable patches with clayey soil and a mean height of herbaceous plants < 60 cm, and habitats at lower slope positions with < 20° of slope for hibernation. Our study provides valuable information about the overwintering ecology of B. gargarizans. It could be used as a scientific reference to population and habitat management of this toad species, and also expands our knowledge on the hibernating behaviour of amphibians.

Key words. Amphibia, Anura, Bufonidae, Badagongshan, Bufo gargarizans, ecological factors, habitat selection, hibernation.

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