An Ecological Study of Anurans in Tea Plantations in a Biodiversity Hotspot
Increasing human population size is increasing the demand for resources like timber, oil, tea, coffee, and other crops. Plantation crops mimic some aspects of native habitats, and there are studies that report the presence of some native anuran biodiversity in plantations. I focused on tea plantations in the Western Ghats-Sri Lanka Biodiversity Hotspot and studied the diversity and health of anurans in different habitats found within a tea cultivation area, near Munnar region in the Western Ghats, India. The landscape includes tea bushes, native evergreen shola forest patches, and eucalyptus forest stands. I reviewed 40 studies comparing amphibian species richness in plantations and primary forests. The age of the plantation, type of plantation, presence in a biodiversity hotspot, number of species in the dominant plantation type, number of species in the paired forest habitat, and latitudinal zone of the study, did not correlate with species richness, but plantations that had periodic harvesting had higher species richness than plantations that practiced clear-cut harvesting. I tested different methods of standard amphibian sampling in the field season 2012 in Munnar, and found that Visual Encounter Surveys (VES) in the shola habitat and Stream Transects (ST) were the most efficient. Using the VES and ST methods, I sampled amphibians in three upland habitats (tea, shola, and eucalyptus) at four different sites, and 150m of stream transects at each site, for two consecutive monsoon seasons. Fourteen species were encountered in both years and the community structure was similar across the years. The community structure at the four sites that was driven by the presence of exclusive species at each site and species composition in streams was similar across the landscape and was driven by the presence of similar species in streams across the four sites. Two hundred and sixteen anurans of 17 species, were tested for the presence of the lethal fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis . The preliminary results from the Polymerase Chain Reactions were negative. My study provides baseline data for anuran diversity, composition, and health in the Munnar region of India and results of this project can be compared with tea plantations around the world.
Eluvathingal, Lilly Margaret, "An Ecological Study of Anurans in Tea Plantations in a Biodiversity Hotspot" (2016). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10743567.