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Upton, Kathleen Anne (2015)
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: GN
Global biodiversity is currently facing the sixth mass extinction, with extinction rates at least 100 times higher than background levels. The Amazon Basin has the richest amphibian fauna in South America, but there remain significant gaps in our knowledge of the drivers of diversity in this region and how amphibian assemblages are responding to environmental change. \ud Surveys were conducted in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (PSNR) in Amazonian Peru, with a view to (1) comparing assemblage structure on floating meadows and adjacent terrestrial habitats; (2) determining the predictors of diversity in these habitats; and (3) exploring the effects of disturbance and seasonal flooding on diversity measures. Eighty-one species of amphibians have been recorded in these habitats since 1996 representing 11 families and three orders. In 2012-2013 22 anuran species used the floating meadow habitat, of which 10 were floating meadow specialists. These specialists were predominantly hylids which breed on floating meadows all the year round. Floating meadows therefore host an assemblage of species which is different to that found in adjacent terrestrial areas which are subject to seasonal flooding. Floating meadows enhance the amphibian diversity of the region, and rafts of vegetation that break away and disperse frogs downstream may explain the wide distribution of hylids within the Amazon Basin. \ud Fourteen different reproductive modes were represented within the 54 anuran species observed. The number of reproductive modes present was influenced by localised disturbance and seasonal flooding. Diversity increased in the low water period, with hylids breeding in temporary pools. When the forest is inundated most species disperse away from the flood waters. \ud Disturbance, habitat change, emerging diseases and climate change would likely lead to changes in species composition and assemblage structure rather than wholescale extinctions. However, further studies are needed to evaluate long-term consequences of synergistic environmental change.
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