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Influence of Forest Fragmentation on Community Structure of Frogs and Lizards in Northeastern Costa Rica

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To better understand responses of reptiles and amphibians to forest fragmentation in the lowland Neotropics, we examined community and population structure of frogs and lizards in the fragmented landscape surrounding La Selva Biological Station in the Sarapiquí region of northeastern Costa Rica. We used diurnal quadrats and nocturnal transects to sample frogs and lizards in nine forest fragments (1–7 ha each) and La Selva (1100 ha). Species richness in all fragments combined was 85% of that found in La Selva with comparable sampling effort. Richness varied from 10 to 24 species among forest fragments, compared with 36 species at La Selva. Lizard density was higher and frog density was lower in forest fragments than in La Selva. Community composition varied among sites and by fragment size class, and species occurrence was nested with respect to fragment area. Isolation and habitat variables did not significantly affect species richness, composition, or nestedness. We classified 34% of species as fragmentation sensitive because they were absent or occurred at low densities in fragments. Nevertheless, the relatively high diversity observed in the entire set of fragments indicates that preserving a network of small forest patches may be of considerable conservation value to the amphibians and reptiles of this region.

Keywords: amphibian conservation; conservación de anfibios; conservación de reptiles; estructura poblacional; population structure; reptile conservation; tropics; trópicos

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th Street, Miami, FL 33199, U.S.A.

Publication date: December 1, 2006


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