Life-history traits govern the habitat use of diverse amphibian assemblages in an agroforest landscape matrix

V. Sankararaman, D. A.W. Miller

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Agroforests are increasingly seen as ancillary conservation landscapes that effectively integrate production needs while sustaining biodiversity goals. The conservation potential of these land uses can be significantly improved by using evidence-based management practices. In this study, we examine the community assembly of anuran amphibians and identify vulnerable species based on their life-history traits across tea and coffee agroforests and non-agricultural forest fragments in the Anamalai Hills of India. We conducted visual and auditory encounter surveys for amphibians along streams and terrestrial habitats. A modified joint species distribution model was used to examine the drivers of species richness, community composition and species co-occurrence patterns. At the community level, mean species richness was greatest in forest fragments followed by coffee and least in tea agroforests. Community composition was associated with both land use (tea/coffee/forest) and habitat (stream/terrestrial), with the greatest composition difference between coffee and forest. Life-history traits were significant drivers of species occupancies, particularly in forests. Fast-flowing water breeding amphibians and smaller body sizes were positively associated with forest streams over coffee and tea streams. Elevation was a strong predictor of amphibian occupancy with nine species showing negative association and 14 species showing positive association. Twelve species also showed a significant positive association with the wetter year, seven of which belonged to direct-developing frogs. This suggests that even single-year declines in rainfall could have detrimental effects on populations and make these species vulnerable to climate change. The results of the study have important conservation consequences for agroforests in the Western Ghats. Stream restoration efforts across elevation gradients could significantly improve habitats for different amphibian assemblages in agroforests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-97
Number of pages12
JournalAnimal Conservation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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