Successful conservation efforts of amphibians depend on the knowledge of habitat preferences because the biggest threat to amphibian populations is considered to be habitat loss. Sub-boreal peatlands in the Midwest may be a refuge for amphibian populations, but little is known about the flora and fauna of these peatlands. My study examined amphibian species richness and species diversity in 17 sub-boreal peatlands in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012. I assessed the relationship between land use of lands adjacent to peatlands and use of those peatlands by amphibian populations at three spatial scales by examining landscapes surrounding peatlands in circles with radii of 500, 1000, and 2500 m. I tested for linear relationships of both species richness and species diversity with habitat variables including peatland area, aqueous pH, geographic isolation, canopy cover, and the proportions of forest and isolating land use (agricultural and urban) in the three radii. I hypothesized that high levels of isolating land use isolate peatlands via habitat loss and degradation of surrounding land. I predicted that species richness and diversity would be low in peatlands that experienced high levels of agricultural and urban land use because they were more isolated. I found no support for my prediction for the correlation of isolating land use with lower amphibian diversity and richness, but isolation was an important indicator of species richness, with more isolated peatlands having fewer species present. Canopy cover was also an important predictor of species richness at all three spatial scales in 2012, with greater canopy cover correlating with lower species richness. Other studies corroborate my findings in regard to isolation and canopy cover having negative effects on amphibian populations, and because of this and my findings, I suggest that conservation efforts for amphibians in sub-boreal peatlands be focused on maintaining connectivity between peatlands, and prioritize those that have little canopy cover to be refuges for remaining populations.


John D. Krenz

Committee Member

Bradley J. Cook

Committee Member

Christopher T. Ruhland

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences


Science, Engineering and Technology

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



Rights Statement

In Copyright