Dario Furlani, Gentile Francesco Ficetola, Giorgio Colombo, Murat Ugurlucan, Fiorenza De Bernardi
Zoological Science 26 (3), 197-202, (1 March 2009) https://doi.org/10.2108/zsj.26.197
KEYWORDS: Amphibian community, Amphibian conservation, audio strip transects, Eleutherodactylus diastema, Eleutherodactylus fitzingeri, Leptodactylus labialis, Hyla rosenbergi, Hyla microcephala, Cochranella granulosa, tropical forest, habitat alteration
Loss of tropical forests is a major cause of biodiversity loss worldwide. Although drastic modification of the habitat has been shown to negatively affect amphibians, we are far from a complete understanding of the response of amphibian communities to deforestation. We studied frog assemblages in a gradient of forest modification in a humid area of Costa Rica, where the primary forest has been partially converted into pasture. The study area is a mosaic of primary palm forest, abandoned pasture covered by secondary forest, and pasture. Species richness was assessed by randomized walk surveys and audio strip transects. We also measured ecological features to evaluate the relationship between landscape alteration and amphibian distribution. The study area hosted a large number of amphibian species. We focused our monitoring on six anurans: Leptodactylus labialis, Eleutherodactylus fitzingeri, E. diastema, Hyla rosenbergi, H. microcephala, and Cochranella granulosa. Three species (L. labialis, H. rosenbergi, and H. microcephala) were most abundant in pasture areas with livestock presence, while E. fitzingeri, E. diastema, and C. granulosa were associated with primary forest. Most of the variation in community structure was explained by the joint effect of forest alteration and presence of livestock. Whereas forest specialists suffer direct negative effect from deforestation, generalist species can take advantage of forest alteration and the presence of farm animals. Species that are able to take advantage of the new environmental characteristics associated with human modifications of landscapes will come to prevail in the new communities.