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      Variation in species richness, composition and herpetological community structure across a tropical habitat gradient of Palawan Island, Philippines

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      Herpetozoa

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Information on species richness and community structure is invaluable for guiding conservation and management of biodiversity, but is rarely available in the megadiverse biodiversity conservation hotspot of Philippines – particularly for amphibians and reptiles. This study provides the first report and characterisation of amphibians and reptile communities across primary habitat types of the Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range on Palawan Island along the western edge of the archipelago. A total of 41 amphibian and reptile species were recorded throughout our sampling sites (n = 27 species) or in targeted habitat searches (14 species). A species richness estimator predicted that 35 species may be present in our sampling sites, suggesting that a significant proportion of secretive species may continue to be unrecorded, especially for reptiles. Higher species richness was found in secondary growth than in mixed-use agricultural areas or even pristine forest. The low species richness recorded from pristine forest types may be due to these forests now being restricted to higher elevations where species diversity has been documented to decrease. Our results also show that complex community structures (species assemblages) are to be equally expected in both secondary growth and pristine forests. Together, our results show how species richness and community assemblages may vary across habitats, highlighting that old growth forest does not always support higher species richness, particularly in high elevations.

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          Most cited references 57

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          Habitat heterogeneity as a determinant of mammal species richness in high-energy regions

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            The relationship among area, elevation, and regional species richness in neotropical birds.

             C Rahbek (1997)
            The elevational gradient of species richness is often claimed to mirror the latitudinal gradient and has traditionally been explained by assuming a decrease in productivity with elevation and more recently by Rapoport's rule. The influence of area on the pattern has rarely been considered. Analyses of all South American tropical land birds (more than one-fourth of the extant bird species on Earth) are used to examine four species richness/elevation models: null model, Rapoport's rule, and monotonic or hump-shaped productivity/species richness relationships. To quantify the area effect, species-area curves were created for seven elevational zones. Not accounting for area, species richness declined monotonically with elevation, but area accounted for 67%-91% of the variation in species richness per zone. When area was factored out, a hump-shaped pattern emerged, with more species in the 500-1,000-m (P<.005) and 1,000-1,500-m zones (P<.10) than in the 0-500-m zone. Rapoport's rule and the monotonic productivity/species richness relationship were thus not supported. Instead, elevational turnover rates and numbers of shared species between zones suggested that the hump-shaped pattern reflects geometric constraints (as predicted by the null model) imposed by the narrow span of the gradient, and it is suggested that midelevational zones may represent sink habitats.
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              Climatic Gradients in Woody Plant Species Richness: Towards an Explanation Based on an Analysis of Southern Africa's Woody Flora

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Herpetozoa
                Herpetozoa
                Pensoft Publishers
                2682-955X
                1013-4425
                May 22 2020
                May 22 2020
                : 33
                : 95-111
                Article
                10.3897/herpetozoa.33.e47293
                © 2020

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