The value of primary, secondary, and plantation forests for a neotropical herpetofauna

Toby A. Gardner, Marco Antonio Ribeiro-Jr, Jos Barlow, Teresa Cristina Sauer Avila-Pires, Marinus S. Hoogmoed, Carlos A. Peres

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160 Citations (Scopus)


Plantation forests and second-growth forests are becoming dominant components of many tropical forest landscapes. Yet there is little information available concerning the consequences of different forestry options for biodiversity conservation in the tropics. We sampled the leaf-litter herpetofauna of primary, secondary, and Eucalyptus plantation forests in the Jari River area of northeastern Brazilian Amazonia. We used four complementary sampling techniques, combined samples from 2 consecutive years, and collected 1739 leaf-litter amphibians (23 species) and 1937 lizards (30 species). We analyzed the data for differences among forest types regarding patterns of alpha and beta diversity, species-abundance distributions, and community structure. Primary rainforest harbored significantly more species, but supported a similar abundance of amphibians and lizards compared with adjacent areas of second-growth forest or plantations. Plantation forests were dominated by wide-ranging habitat generalists. Secondary forest faunas contained a number of species characteristic of primary forest habitat. Amphibian communities in secondary forests and Eucalyptus plantations formed a nested subset of primary forest species, whereas the species composition of the lizard community in plantations was distinct, and was dominated by open-area species. Although plantation forests are relatively impoverished, naturally regenerating forests can help mitigate some negative effects of deforestation for herpetofauna. Nevertheless, secondary forest does not provide a substitute for primary forest, and in the absence of further evidence from older successional stands, we caution against the optimistic claim that natural forest regeneration in abandoned lands will provide refuge for the many species that are currently threatened by deforestation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-787
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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