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Are corridors, fragment size and forest structure important for the conservation of leaf-litter lizards in a fragmented landscape?

  • Marianna Dixo (a1) and Jean Paul Metzger (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

To investigate the implications of forest fragmentation for conservation of leaf-litter lizards the importance of fragment size, corridors and forest structure was examined in 20 forest fragments and six localities within a continuous forest in the Atlantic Plateau of São Paulo state, Brazil. The fragments were 2–276 ha in area and had different degrees of connectivity depending on the presence or absence of corridors. Two species of lizards were dominant, Ecpleopus gaudichaudii and Enyalius perditus. Variation in forest structure among sites was important only in explaining the abundance of E. perditus. Regardless of variation in forest structure, lizard species composition, total lizard abundance, number of species and abundance of E. perditus were sensitive to fragmentation per se but not to fragment size or corridor linkage. The inhospitable matrix surrounding fragments is probably what determines the presence and abundance of E. perditus and the higher lizard richness in continuous forests. These conditions may have prevented lizard species from recolonizing the forest fragments. Our results emphasize that the conservation of this leaf-litter fauna depends on the maintenance of large tracts of continuous forests and not on the size of fragments or on the presence of forest connections. Strategies for conservation of leaf-litter lizards in such highly fragmented Atlantic Forest landscapes should consider the enlargement of landscape connectivity between fragments and continuous forest, allowing the latter areas to act as a source of individuals for fragments.

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*Department of Ecology, Institute of Bioscience, University of São Paulo, Rua do Matão, 321, travessa 14, 05508-900, São Paulo, SP, Brazil. E-mail mariannadixo@yahoo.com.br
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Oryx
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