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Amphibians recorded in forest swamp areas of the River Niger Delta (southeastern Nigeria), and the effects of habitat alteration from oil industry development on species richness and diversity

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The Niger Delta (Southern Nigeria) is the main oil-producing region in sub-Saharan Africa. Its biodiversity is very important for the concomitant presence of rainforests and mangroves, and many endemic flora and fauna. Six sites in southern Nigeria, four currently affected by oil industry development but formerly inside the rainforest belt and two in pristine protected areas, were surveyed for amphibians during 1996-2002, in both dry and rainy seasons. Amphibian species diversity was reliably assessed at all study sites, as shown by species accumulation curves. The total number of species found in the two pristine sites was much higher than that found in the four developed sites. Nevertheless, a total of over 6300 amphibian specimens belonging to 28 species were captured at these four sites. Species included three Bufonidae (genera Bufo and Nectophryne), two Pipidae (Silurana and Hymenochirus), nine Ranidae (Hylarana, Ptychadena, Aubria, Conraua, Hoplobatrachus, and Phrynobatrachus), one Arthroleptidae (Arthroleptis), one Rhacophoridae (Chiromantis), one Microhylidae (Phrynomantis), and eleven Hyperoliidae (Hyperolius, Afrixalus, Leptopelis, Phlyctimantis, and Opisthothylax). The four developed study sites were similar in terms of species composition; the most common species were Silurana tropicalis (accounting for about 74% of the total number of specimens captured), Bufo maculatus, Ptychadena spp., Hylarana albolabris, Hoplobatrachus occipitalis, Hyperolius cf. concolor and Afrixalus dorsalis. Greater numbers of species and individuals were captured in the rainy season than in the dry season. In terms of chemo-physical properties of the water at their breeding sites, both adult and larval anurans of several species (e. g., Silurana, Bufo and Ptychadena) were highly adaptable, being able to thrive in anoxic and slightly acidic water with dissolved oxygen from 0.50-1.50 mg l-1 and pH from 5.9-7.2.

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