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What is driving declines of montane endemic amphibians? New insights from Mount Bamboutos, Cameroon

  • A. M. Tchassem F. (a1), T. M. Doherty-Bone (a2), M. M. Kameni N. (a1), W. P. Tapondjou N. (a3), J. L. Tamesse (a4) and L. N. Gonwouo (a1)...

Abstract

Amphibians on African mountains are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, disease and climate change. In particular, there have been recent reports of declines of montane endemic frogs in Cameroon. Mount Bamboutos, although home to numerous species of endemic amphibians, has no official protection and its amphibian populations have so far not been studied quantitatively. We surveyed frog assemblages on this mountain along a gradient of forest modification over a 2-year period. Through visual encounter surveys stratified across forest and farmland, we found that threatened montane amphibian species are closely associated with forested areas, particularly the Critically Endangered Leptodactylodon axillaris and Endangered Leptodactylodon perreti, Astylosternus ranoides and Cardioglossa oreas. Using the updated inventory of amphibians, which includes species with broader ranges across Africa, we found 69% of amphibian species on Mount Bamboutos to be threatened. We did not record several species present in historical records, which suggests they may have disappeared from this mountain, including Cardioglossa pulchra, Phrynobatrachus steindachneri, Phrynobatrachus werneri, Sclerophrys villiersi, Werneria bambutensis and Wolterstorffina mirei. The pattern of change detected in the amphibian community is consistent with declines on other mountains in the country, with a loss of Phrynobatrachus, Werneria and Cardioglossa spp., but persistence of Astylosternus, Arthroleptis and Leptodacty-lodon. The observed relationships of land-use patterns and amphibian diversity suggest that ongoing land-use changes could extirpate the remaining montane endemic frog species, particularly L. axillaris and L. perreti. Preserving a network of connected forest patches is therefore critical to save the endemic amphibians of Mount Bamboutos.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail arnaudtchassem@yahoo.fr

Footnotes

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Also at: Cameron Herpetology—Conservation Biology Foundation, Yaoundé, Cameroon

Supplementary material for this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605318001448

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What is driving declines of montane endemic amphibians? New insights from Mount Bamboutos, Cameroon

  • A. M. Tchassem F. (a1), T. M. Doherty-Bone (a2), M. M. Kameni N. (a1), W. P. Tapondjou N. (a3), J. L. Tamesse (a4) and L. N. Gonwouo (a1)...

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