Urbanization is a major contributor to habitat loss and fragmentation and is considered a global threat to biodiversity. We studied reptile and amphibian species diversity and abundance in a highly fragmented landscape adjacent to the second largest metropolitan area in the United States. Habitat patches in our study area were made up of remnant native vegetation surrounded by roads, housing, and other urban development. Species richness and diversity were positively associated with patch size, but patch age was not significantly associated with community characteristics. Four relatively common species were not detected in the small patches, indicating the possibility they had been extirpated by the time monitoring began, and six rarer species were not detected or detected only once in these patches. Although the patch size effect on species diversity was strong, we found that several of the small habitat patches had similar diversity to large patches, indicating potential value of these small habitat patches in protecting species as “microreserves.” In addition, one lizard species was found to be significantly more abundant in the smaller patches. To determine if abundance changed over time, we compared capture rates for four common lizards at the same sites ten years later. For three of the four species, abundance decreased over that period, specifically in the small patches. Although our long-term monitoring has confirmed that the full suite of herpetofauna is currently preserved in the study area overall, declines even in the common species over time hint at the potential severity of the threat of urbanization to rare species.
Reptile and Amphibian Diversity and Abundance in an Urban Landscape: Impacts of Fragmentation and the Conservation Value of Small Patches
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Kathleen Semple Delaney, Gary Busteed, Robert N. Fisher, Seth P. D. Riley; Reptile and Amphibian Diversity and Abundance in an Urban Landscape: Impacts of Fragmentation and the Conservation Value of Small Patches. Ichthyology & Herpetology 1 July 2021; 109 (2): 424–435. doi: https://doi.org/10.1643/h2019261
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