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Beta diversity of frogs in the forests of New Guinea, Amazonia and Europe: contrasting tropical and temperate communities


  • Chris Dahl,

    Corresponding author
    1. New Guinea Binatang Research Center and University of Papua New Guinea, Madang, Papua New Guinea
      *Chris Dahl, New Guinea Binatang Research Center, PO Box 604, Madang, Papua New Guinea.
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  • Vojtech Novotny,

    1. Biology Center of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
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  • Jiri Moravec,

    1. Department of Zoology, National Museum, Praha, Czech Republic
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  • Stephen J. Richards

    1. Vertebrates Department, South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, and Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International, Atherton, Australia
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*Chris Dahl, New Guinea Binatang Research Center, PO Box 604, Madang, Papua New Guinea.


Aim  To test the hypothesis that animal communities within environmentally relatively uniform lowland forests are characterized by low beta diversity, both in tropical and in temperate areas.

Location  Lowland forests in the basins of the Sepik and Ramu rivers in New Guinea, the Amazon river in Bolivia, and the Elbe and Dyje rivers in the Czech Republic.

Methods  A network of 5–6 study sites spanning distances from 20–80 to 300–500 km in each study area was systematically surveyed for all frogs, using visual detection and call tracking. The community data were analysed for alpha and beta diversity.

Results  Local (alpha) diversity of frog communities was similar in the two tropical areas, New Guinea (mean ± SE of 22 ± 1.4 species per site) and Amazonia (24 ± 1.7 species), but was significantly lower in Europe (8 ± 0.8 species). In Amazonia, 36 of the total of 70 species were recorded from single sites. In contrast, widespread species dominated in Europe, whereas New Guinea exhibited an intermediate pattern with both local and widespread species well represented. The rate of species accumulation across different sites was lowest in Europe, intermediate in New Guinea and highest in Amazonia. The regional species diversity, expressed as the combined number of species from five study sites, was 1.5 times higher than the local species diversity at a single site in Europe, 2.0 times higher in New Guinea and 2.7 times higher in Amazonia. The proportion of species shared between communities decreased with geographic distance in New Guinea and Europe, but not in Amazonia.

Main conclusions  Frog communities in the lowland tropical rain forests of New Guinea and Amazonia had similar numbers of species, but differed in their beta diversity. More species in Amazonia had restricted distributions than in New Guinea. Both tropical areas had markedly higher alpha and beta diversity than the temperate area in Europe.

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