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The value of remnant trees in pastures for a neotropical poison frog

  • Darvé Robinson (a1), Adrienne Warmsley (a2), A. Justin Nowakowski (a3), Kelsey E. Reider (a3) and Maureen A. Donnelly (a3) (a4)...
Abstract:

Conversion of natural habitats to anthropogenic land uses is a primary cause of amphibian declines in species-rich tropical regions. However, agricultural lands are frequently used by a subset of forest-associated species, and the habitat value of a given land use is likely modified by the presence and characteristics of remnant trees. Here we used mark–recapture methods to examine abundances and movement probability of the poison frog, Oophaga pumilio, at individual trees in forest-fragment edges and adjacent pastures in north-eastern Costa Rica. One hundred and forty-seven trees were surveyed at three replicate sites that each included a forest fragment and adjacent pasture. Trees were sampled at distances of ≤30 m into forest and ≤150 m into pastures for Oophaga pumilio, and local environmental characteristics were measured at each tree. We also measured indices of physical condition (size and endurance) of frogs captured in forest edges and in nearby pastures. Analyses of 167 marked individuals showed no difference in per-tree abundances or sex ratios between pasture and forest edges. We found significant interactions between habitat type and leaf-litter cover, tree dbh and number of logs, indicating greater influence of local variables on abundances in pastures. Movement among trees was infrequent and not predicted by sex, size, habitat type or environmental variables. While results of endurance tests did not differ for individuals from the two habitats, frogs captured in pastures were, on average, larger than frogs captured in forest edges. These data indicate that remnant trees are important habitat features for O. pumilio in pastures and corroborate research in other systems that suggests that large relictual trees should be retained to maximize the potential for altered landscapes to provide habitat for native species.

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Corresponding author
1Corresponding author. Email: anowa001@fiu.edu
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Journal of Tropical Ecology
  • ISSN: 0266-4674
  • EISSN: 1469-7831
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-tropical-ecology
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