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Demographic Trends and Community Stability in a Montane Amphibian Assemblage

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We conducted a long-term study of a montane amphibian community in Peñalara Natural Park ( central Spain ) to analyze population trends. We recorded larval density and number of ponds used for reproduction for nine species in two time periods: 1982–1986 and 1999. We used chi-square analysis to compare the observed ratio of extinctions to colonizations to an expected ratio of 1:1 at the ponds used for reproduction for each species. We also compared larval densities of six species in both time periods. Overall, we found no differences in species composition. However, separate analyses for each of the nine species inhabiting the study area showed that underlying this apparent stability were significant opposite population trends in six species. Three species expanded their ranges, whereas three suffered severe range reductions and population decreases. A chytrid infection was responsible for the decline of Alytes obstetricans, almost extirpated from the surveyed area, whereas less dramatic decreases were observed for Salamandra salamandra and Bufo calamita. Our study emphasizes the need to analyze each species separately to assess the conservation status of amphibian assemblages. In this context, the conservation of endemic species with restricted distribution areas should be considered a priority.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas José Gutiérrez Abascal 2, 28006 Madrid, Spain

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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