Too wet for frogs: changes in a tropical leaf litter community coincide with La Nina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Extreme climatic events such as the El Nino Southern Oscillation profoundly affect many plants and animals, including amphibians, which are strongly negatively affected by drought conditions. How amphibians respond to exceptionally high precipitation as observed in La Nina events, however, remains unclear. We document the correlation between the exceedingly wet 2010-2012 La Nina and community-level changes in a leaf litter frog assemblage in Costa Rica. Relative abundances of species shifted, diversity and plot occupancy decreased, and community composition became homogenized with the onset of La Nina. These aspects remained altered for over 20 months but rebounded to pre-La Nina levels after approximately 12 months. We hypothesize that complex ecological cascades associated with excess moisture caused short-term declines in abundances of species and associated changes in community structure. If additional stressors such as disease or habitat loss are not co-occurring, frog communities can rapidly recover to pre-disturbance levels following severe climatic events.


  • Mason J. Ryan
  • Norman J. Scott
  • Joseph A. Cook
  • Beatriz Willink
  • Gerardo Chaves
  • Federico Bolanos
  • Adrian Garcia-Rodriguez
  • Ian M. Latella
  • Sally E. Koerner
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • community, diversity, ENSO, leaf litter, rainfall, tropics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch