Assessing ecological and environmental influences on boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata) spring calling phenology using multimodal passive monitoring technologies

Emma M. Brinley Buckley, Benjamin L. Gottesman, Andrew J. Caven, Mary J. Harner, Bryan C. Pijanowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Although anuran reproductive behavior follows a phenological pattern, environmental factors may influence the timing of anuran activity. To characterize the spring calling phenology of Pseudacris maculata (boreal chorus frog) we installed acoustic recorders during three spring breeding seasons (2015–2017) within wet meadow and forested slough habitats in central Nebraska near the Platte River. The recorders were paired with time-lapse camera systems that were used to measure vegetation change and wet meadow inundation. We examined the relationship between environmental variables, including temperature, precipitation, and hydropattern, and P. maculata calling activity using random forest models. Calling activity exhibited diel and seasonal variation with differences observed between habitats. Hourly call activity was highest between 20:00 and 01:00, with diurnal and sometimes near-continuous calling observed at the wet meadow but not at the forested slough. Random forest models explained 73% of calling activity variance at the wet meadow and 45% at the forested slough, suggesting additional factors, such as predation, may be influential at the forested slough, as it exhibited near permanent hydrology. P. maculata was predicted to increase chorusing at the 70th day of the year at the wet meadow but not until the 100th at the forested slough. When average air temperatures exceeded 5 °C, calling activity was predicted to increase at both wetlands, and calling declined below this temperature. Hydropattern and weekly precipitation accumulation were important predictors of P. maculata calling activity. Our findings highlight the importance of climatic factors such as temperature and precipitation regimes, in addition to habitat conditions such as water-availability, on P. maculata calling activity. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the utility of multimodal passive monitoring technologies, including both visual and auditory tools, for understanding the environmental factors that influence biological activity. Multimodal approaches can be especially useful for documenting and measuring vocal-taxa diversity, activity, and drivers of change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107171
JournalEcological Indicators
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Autonomous acoustic recording
  • Central Platte River
  • Image analysis
  • Multimodal monitoring
  • Pseudacris maculata
  • Sloughs
  • Wet meadows
  • Wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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