Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 711–723 | Cite as

Lizard diversity and agricultural disturbance in a Caribbean forest landscape

  • Richard E. Glor
  • Alexander S. Flecker
  • Michael F. Benard
  • Alison G. Power


Understanding the impact of agriculture on biodiversity is critical for effective conservation management. Our goal was to determine the impact of agricultural disturbance on the lizard fauna of Los Haitises National Park and the surrounding region in the Dominican Republic. This region has a history of extensive agricultural disturbance followed by abrupt abandonment. Abundance and diversity were surveyed in six habitats: relatively undisturbed hilltop (mogote), four habitats disturbed by agriculture (pasture, oil palm plantation, cacao plantation, conuco or home garden), and one forested habitat. Three of these habitats (pasture, cacao plantation, conuco) were also examined at different stages of activity or abandonment. Glue-trap grids were used to sample each habitat. In general, species richness was lower in more heavily or recently disturbed habitats. Richness was lowest in active agricultural habitats where only 54% of the region's lizard species were detected. Notably, agricultural systems differed considerably in their ability to support a diverse lizard assemblage. Abandoned agricultural habitats had slightly higher richness than their active counterparts, but still contained only 69% of the region's species. By contrast, nearly every native species, including several never observed in agriculturally disturbed habitats, were detected on the undisturbed hilltops (mogotes). These mogotes may have served as refugees for species that could not tolerate disturbance when the region was being heavily exploited for agriculture. Overall, our results suggest that the continued protection of the park, and its mogotes in particular, will be required to maintain the region's lizard diversity.

agroecology Anolis biodiversity Dominican Republic Los Haitises National Park 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard E. Glor
    • 1
  • Alexander S. Flecker
    • 1
  • Michael F. Benard
    • 1
  • Alison G. Power
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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