Deakin University

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Meta-analysis reveals impacts of disturbance on reptile and amphibian body condition

journal contribution
posted on 2023-07-28, 04:45 authored by KJ Macdonald, Don DriscollDon Driscoll, B Hradsky, Tim DohertyTim Doherty
Ecosystem disturbance is increasing in extent, severity and frequency across the globe. To date, research has largely focussed on the impacts of disturbance on animal population size, extinction risk and species richness. However, individual responses, such as changes in body condition, can act as more sensitive metrics and may provide early warning signs of reduced fitness and population declines. We conducted the first global systematic review and meta-analysis investigating the impacts of ecosystem disturbance on reptile and amphibian body condition. We collated 384 effect sizes representing 137 species from 133 studies. We tested how disturbance type, species traits, biome and taxon moderate the impacts of disturbance on body condition. We found an overall negative effect of disturbance on herpetofauna body condition (Hedges' g = −0.37, 95% CI: −0.57, −0.18). Disturbance type was an influential predictor of body condition response and all disturbance types had a negative mean effect. Drought, invasive species and agriculture had the largest effects. The impact of disturbance varied in strength and direction across biomes, with the largest negative effects found within Mediterranean and temperate biomes. In contrast, taxon, body size, habitat specialisation and conservation status were not influential predictors of disturbance effects. Our findings reveal the widespread effects of disturbance on herpetofauna body condition and highlight the potential role of individual-level response metrics in enhancing wildlife monitoring. The use of individual response metrics alongside population and community metrics would deepen our understanding of disturbance impacts by revealing both early impacts and chronic effects within affected populations. This could enable early and more informed conservation management.



Global Change Biology









Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal