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Conservation Of Insular Herpetofaunas In The West Indies

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Chapter Summary

There are approximately 700 species of amphibians and reptiles that have been described from the West Indies, here defined as excluding Trinidad and Tobago which are adjacent to South America and have continental faunas. This includes approximately 180 amphibians and 520 reptiles. The conservation status of only the amphibians has been assessed comprehensively, and 84% of those species are considered threatened. This chapter provides brief overview of the origin and evolution of the West Indian herpetofauna. This is followed by a discussion of two aspects vital to its conservation: stopping deforestation and facilitating systematic research. For some species, especially large reptiles, it has been claimed that introduced predators have had a greater negative impact than habitat alteration. Although this probably is true in some instances, the point made here is that habitat destruction-in particular, deforestation-is the major and primary threat to the survival of most species.

Keywords:amphibians; deforestation; habitat alteration; reptiles; West Indian herpetofauna



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