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Measuring species diversity to determine land-use effects on reptile and amphibian assemblages

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

Populations of herpetofauna are declining globally primarily due to land-use practices (e.g., silviculture or conversion to agriculture) and declines require monitoring of all herpetofauna communities. Therefore, forest management plans for Bull Neck Swamp, a pocosin wetland in North Carolina, USA, initiated an inventory of the herpetofauna community. Our objectives were to: (1) derive diversity measures for four designated habitat preserves (i.e., Atlantic whitecedar [Chamaecyparis thyoides], Pond pine [Pinus serotina], Non-riverine Swamp, and Shoreline/Islands) and a Forest manageable area, (2) determine if there were benefits to habitat preserves for the herpetofauna community, and (3) provide recommendations for future monitoring. We employed 11 different sampling techniques across the four habitat preserves and Forest manageable area. Species richness estimates and similarity indices were derived using EstimateS 8.0. For post hoc comparisons, we derived species distributions with the Nestedness Temperature Calculator Program. Observed species richness ranged from 7 to 32 species (S = 13 to 44) and abundances ranged from 99 to 873 individuals. Similarity indices suggested species compositions were similar among habitats. Further, nestedness temperature (T = 12.6°C) indicated an even species distribution among assemblages. Comparable similarity indices among habitats, an even species distribution, and habitat continuity suggested management practices would have little impact on the herpetofauna community. Nevertheless, future management practices should be carefully considered and planned to mitigate effects to individual species. We recommend studies employ species richness, relative abundance, species composition, and distribution as conservation tools when inventorying or monitoring herpetofauna communities.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695


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