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A rapid assessment of herpetofaunal diversity in variously altered habitats on Dominica

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In June 2008, we conducted a survey of Dominican herpetofaunal communities in habitats variously disturbed by human activity. Our rapid assessment found the highest abundance and species richness in moderately to substantially modified areas. We found relatively few species and low numbers of individuals in relatively natural high-elevation sites, dramatically altered urban areas, and active agricultural fields. In habitats subjected to intermediate levels of disturbance, such as a residential area and an inactive agricultural site invaded by dense exotic vegetation, complex physical habitat structure appeared to support the greatest herpetofaunal diversity. These results suggest that conservation efforts in the West Indies need not be restricted to pristine habitats, but also might include protection of slightly to moderately disturbed areas that may sustain greater biodiversity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Natural Sciences, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida 33711, USA; 2: Department of Biology, Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri 63501, USA; 3: Department of Biology, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana 47374, USA; 4: Section of Vertebrate Zoology, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee, WI 53233, USA; 5: Department of Biology, Avila University, Kansas City, Missouri 64145, USA


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