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Forest Fragment and Breeding Habitat Characteristics Explain Frog Diversity and Abundance in Singapore

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ABSTRACT

Habitat loss and fragmentation can have severe negative and irreversible effects on biodiversity. We investigated the effects of forest fragmentation on frog diversity in Singapore because of its high rates of deforestation and the demonstration that frogs are some of the most sensitive species to habitat degradation. We surveyed frog species in 12 forest fragments varying from 11 to 935 ha. We compared differences in species richness, abundance, and Shannon's index in relation to forest fragment size, connectivity (distance between fragments), and breeding habitat heterogeneity. A total of 20 species from 12 genera and five families were encountered in 12 fragments. Larger fragments and those closer to larger fragments had higher species richness. Abundance, however, was not correlated with forest area or connectivity, but we found fewer individual frogs in the larger fragments. We also found that breeding habitat heterogeneity best explained frog species diversity and abundance in forest fragments. Fragments with a high diversity of breeding habitats had more species. We found no evidence to suggest that abundance and diversity are strongly correlated, particularly in disturbed areas, but that breeding habitat heterogeneity is an under-appreciated factor that should be considered when prioritizing areas for anuran conservation. Enriching breeding habitat heterogeneity, creating corridors between fragments, and reforesting degraded areas are some of the most beneficial strategies for preserving urban frog biodiversity.

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