, Volume 22, Issue 9, pp 2057-2070
Date: 13 Jul 2013

Leaf-litter herpetofaunal richness, abundance, and community assembly in mono-dominant plantations and primary forest of northeastern Costa Rica

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Abstract

Given current deforestation and land-use change in species-rich tropical forests, a pressing need in conservation biology is to understand how converted, human-modified landscapes support biodiversity. Here, we measured the species richness, abundance, and community composition of amphibians and reptiles in reference primary forest and mono-dominant plantations of three native tree species (Pentaclethra macroloba, Virola koschnyi, Vochysia guatemalensis) at La Selva Biological Station in the Caribbean lowlands of northern Costa Rica. Because these plantation species generate markedly different forest-floor habitats, we hypothesized that tree species would support different assemblages of leaf-litter herpetofauna. Primary forest, Virola, and Vochysia supported greater richness of frogs than Pentaclethra. Frog densities were significantly lower in Pentaclethra and Vochysia than in nearby primary forest. Using non-metric multidimensional scaling and permutational multivariate analysis of variance, we found Pentaclethra to support significantly different assemblages of frogs and lizards than primary forest reference sites, while Vochysia supported a unique assemblage of frogs. Our results suggest that some tree species plantations can support herpetofaunal assemblages comparable to primary forest in richness, community assembly, and abundance. While herpetofaunal community ecology varies among plantation species, our study provides a compelling example of how plantation landscapes can facilitate the restoration of native fauna on degraded landscapes.