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An historical interpretation of habitat use by frogs in a Central Amazonian Forest

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Abstract:

Interpretations of habitat use in tropical frog assemblages have centred on resource partitioning and stressed the influence of interspecific interaction and climatic fluctuation on numbers of species using various habitats. We used audio strip transects and visual methods to determine the species composition, reproductive modes, and habitat occupancy patterns of the entire assemblage of frog species in 1900 hectares of primary forest north of Manaus in the central Amazon. We then compared taxon, reproductive mode, and habitat of species at six analogous lowland forest sites of similar species richness (five in the Amazon and one in Southeast Asia) to determine similarity of habitat use among sites and whether habitat is strongly associated with speciesĀ» systematic positions. In all lowland Amazonian faunas, most species with aquatic development use pools, many species undergo some degree of terrestrial development, and few species are riparian or develop in streams. In contrast, about half the species in Southeast Asian assemblages are riparian and develop in streams, and few species develop terrestrially. Because reproductive mode and habitat associate strongly with taxon, patterns of habitat use observed at this regional scale are better explained by historical biogeography and differential rates of speciation than by proximal selection generated by contemporary environmental conditions. This study presents an inventory of frog species in a central Amazonian terre-firme forest and measurements of habitat availability and use by an entire assemblage of frogs throughout a large area (other portions of this study were published by Gascon, 1990, 1991; Zimmerman & Rodrigues, 1990; Zimmerman, 1991). We asked whether this local pattern of habitat occupancy differed from the regional Amazonian pattern and whether local species composition could be predicted from (sub)habitat composition. Viewing the assemblage at the local level did reveal species-(sub)habitat relationships masked at the broader regional level. About half the pool-breeders at the Manaus forest study sites would not use pools that could be flooded by a permanent stream; several species distinguished between permanent and temporary ponds; and some species occupied all available breeding habitat, whereas others occurred patchily. This pattern was maintained over four breeding seasons, and species composition could be predicted from (sub)habitat composition. Phylogeny was not a predictor of subhabitat occupancy. Perhaps species are phylogenetically constrained to develop in pool, stream, riparian, or terrestrial habitats, but contemporary selection governs their narrow distribution within these major habitat types. Finally, we asked whether anuran species richness in the central Amazon differs from that of the upper or lower Amazon. One genus, Eleutherodactylus , accounts for elevated species richness at upper Amazonian sites. Dry seasons in the central and lower Amazon are unlikely to restrict the spread of eleutherodactylines, which reproduce terrestrially. There are as many non-eleutherodactylines with terrestrial development at seasonal sites as there are at continually wet sites. Colonization history and the topography of central and lower Amazonia are more likely to limit eleutherodactyline richness.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2699.1996.d01-218.x

Affiliations: Conservation International, 1015 18th Street NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20036, U.S.A. and Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306-2043, USA.

Publication date: January 1, 1996

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