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HERPETOFAUNAL DYNAMICS DURING SECONDARY SUCCESSION NEFTALI RIOS-LO PEZ
 

Summary: HERPETOFAUNAL DYNAMICS DURING SECONDARY SUCCESSION
NEFTALIŽ RIOS-LOŽ PEZ
1
AND T. MITCHELL AIDE
Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, P.O. Box 23360, San Juan, Puerto Rico 00931-3360, USA
ABSTRACT: Concepts of vertebrate succession in terrestrial habitats are based mainly on studies of birds
and mammals. To provide a broader understanding of vertebrate succession and the organization of species
assemblage, we studied the development of a herpetofaunal assemblage in a reforestation project. We
sampled herpetofauna monthly between February 2001 and March 2002 and between June and September
2003 in a reforested limestone valley, and compared the composition and structure of the species assemblage
in this valley with three reference sites and a deforested valley in a limestone region of Puerto Rico. In the
reforested valley, the increase in vegetation heterogeneity and the decrease in microclimate variability
facilitated herpetofaunal succession. Species richness increased rapidly from three to eleven species in
13 mo, with predatory species colonizing the reforested valley by the end of the study. The trophic structure
changed more slowly with the density of individuals of (1) arboreal species increasing with increased woody
vegetation cover, and (2) predatory species increasing with increased prey density. The pattern of
herpetofaunal succession can be described by an assembly rule that considers microclimate as an important
controller for the development of the species assembly. We suggest that including microclimate in assembly
rules can help us broaden our understanding of factors that determine vertebrate succession in terrestrial
habitats.

  

Source: Aide, Mitchell - Department of Biology, Universidad de Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology