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Since amphibian declines were first proposed as a global phenomenon over a quarter century ago, the conservation community has made little progress in halting or reversing these trends. The early search for a "smoking gun" was replaced with the expectation that declines are caused by multiple drivers. While field observations and experiments have identified factors leading to increased local extinction risk, evidence for effects of these drivers is lacking at large spatial scales. Here, we use observations of 389 time-series of 83 species and complexes from 61 study areas across North America to test the effects of 4 of the major hypothesized drivers of declines. While we find that local amphibian populations are being lost from metapopulations at an average rate of 3.79% per year, these declines are not related to any particular threat at the continental scale; likewise the effect of each stressor is variable at regional scales. This result - that exposure to threats varies spatially, and populations vary in their response - provides little generality in the development of conservation strategies. Greater emphasis on local solutions to this globally shared phenomenon is needed.


Grant EH1, Miller DA2, Schmidt BR3,4, Adams MJ5, Amburgey SM2, Chambert T2,6, Cruickshank SS3, Fisher RN7, Green DM8, Hossack BR9, Johnson PT10, Joseph MB10, Rittenhouse TA11, Ryan ME12, Waddle JH13, Walls SC14, Bailey LL15, Fellers GM16, Gorman TA17, Ray AM18, Pilliod DS19, Price SJ20, Saenz D21, Sadinski W22, Muths E23.

1. U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, SO Conte Anadromous Fish Lab, 1 Migratory Way, Turners Falls, MA 01376, United States of America.

2. Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802, United States of America.

3. Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

4. KARCH, 2000 Neuchatel, Switzerland.

5. U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Corvallis, OR, 97331, United States of America.

6. U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, 20708, United States of America.

7. U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, San Diego, CA, 92101 United States of America.

8. Redpath Museum, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

9. U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, Missoula, MT, 59801 United States of America.

10. University of Colorado, Boulder, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, Boulder, CO, 80309 United States of America.

11. University of Connecticut, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Storrs, CT, 06269 United States of America.

12. School of Environment and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98195 United States of America.

13. U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Lafayette, LA, 70506 United States of America.

14. U.S. Geological Survey, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, Gainesville, FL, 32653 United States of America.

15. Colorado State University, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, Fort Collins, CO, 80523 United States of America.

16. U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Point Reyes Station, CA, 94956 United States of America.

17. Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 24061 United States of America.

18. Greater Yellowstone Network Program, National Park Service, Bozeman, MT, 59715 United States of America.

19. U.S. Geological Survey, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Boise, ID, 83702 United States of America.

20. Department of Forestry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 40506 United States of America.

21. Southern Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Nacogdoches, TX, 75961 United States of America.

22. U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, La Crosse, WI 54603, United States of America.

23.U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO, 80526, United States of America.