Life history of amphibians in the seasonal tropics: habitat, community and population ecology of a caecilian (genus Ichthyophis)

Authors

  • Alexander Kupfer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institut für Zoologie, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Schnittspahnstrasse 3, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany
    2. Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, U.K.
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  • Jarujin Nabhitabhata,

    1. National Science Museum, Research Division, Technopolis, Rangsit-Nakorn Nayok Highway, Klong 5, Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Bangkok, Thailand
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  • Werner Himstedt

    1. Institut für Zoologie, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Schnittspahnstrasse 3, 64287 Darmstadt, Germany
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All correspondence to: Alexander Kupfer, Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, U.K. E-mail: alexk@nhm.ac.uk or alexkupfer@yahoo.de

Abstract

Fundamental information on the ecology of the limbless tropical caecilians is needed for a well-founded conservation assessment. Here, essential life-history characters are presented for the oviparous caecilian Ichthyophis cf. kohtaoensis from a field site in South-east Asia (Mekong valley, north-eastern Thailand). Ichthyophis cf. kohtaoensis was found in a range of terrestrial macrohabitats including open scrubs, gallery forests and open secondary dipterocarp forests. In the dry season, caecilians were found mainly in soil but in the rainy season they were also detected in epigeic microhabitats (leaf litter or rotten vegetation). Ichthyophis cf. kohtaoensis were recorded in low densities (median 0.08 individuals/m2) and they share their habitat with a range of other terrestrial amphibians and reptiles. The population structure of I. cf. kohtaoensis varied seasonally. Records of late metamorphs were restricted to the cold dry season and occasionally to the onset of the rainy season. Females with clutches were only found in the rainy season. A life-history scenario of I. cf. kohtaoensis in north-eastern Thailand was set up. Reproduction and larval development is related to the rainy season. Mating and oviposition may start at the onset of the monsoon. Larvae hatch at the peak until the end of the rainy season and metamorphose until the end of the dry season. In the light of amphibian decline, this study may encourage further baseline work on the ecology of other caecilian species.

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