DENSITY AND DIVERSITY OF FOREST FLOOR ANURANS IN THE RAIN FORESTS OF SOUTHERN WESTERN GHATS, INDIA

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Abstract

The structure and composition of forest-floor anuran diversity in the biologically rich rain forests of southern Western Ghats were studied. The study was carried out in the relatively undisturbed rainforest tract of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. A quadrat search method was used to estimate species richness and density of the forest floor anuran community. Sample locations were distributed across three distinct watersheds in the reserve. In total, we captured 509 individuals belonging to 20 species. The density of anurans was 149 individuals ha-1 on the rain-forest floor, and along streams their densities exceeded 300 individuals ha-1. Total diversity across all watershed locations was partitioned into within and among watershed components, corresponding to alpha and beta diversity. We found high levels of species turnover (high β diversity) among watersheds, a process that may partly explain the high species richness and large number of endemic anuran species known to occur in the rain forests of the Western Ghats. Anurans density was low and comparable to other studies conducted in South-East Asian forests. A re-examination of the reports on anuran densities revealed that Central American anuran densities were an order of magnitude higher than South Asian and South American anuran densities. Existing hypotheses do not adequately explain the differences in anuran densities in different parts of the world.

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