Preferred Name

Tyler Kovacs

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

ORCID

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0780-8868

Date of Graduation

Summer 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Biology

Advisor(s)

Heather Griscom

David McLeod

Idelle Cooper

Abstract

Tropical dry forests are considered one of the most endangered tropical ecosystems making reforestation increasingly necessary to restore Panama’s unique ecoregion. The isolated dry ecoregion surrounding the Bay of Parita in Panama has a long history of deforestation and cattle grazing. Successful reforestation of this land is important to restore ecosystem health and biodiversity. In Panama, reforestation ranges from monocultures of exotic teak (Tectona grandis) to passive regeneration. Faunal recovery within these reforestation systems may vary due to different habitat characteristics. In this study, amphibian and reptile communities were compared in two types of reforestation systems and protected riparian forests in the dry ecoregion of the Azuero Peninsula, Panama. A 13-year-old secondary forest and a 13-year-old teak plantation were assessed, each containing a forested riparian zone. Two old secondary forests (80+ years) and an active cattle pasture were used as reference sites to represent low and high disturbance habitats. The 13-year-old secondary forest had higher site richness along with a more complex community composition compared to the 13-year-old teak plantation. Results indicate the importance of protected forested riparian areas, which had significantly more abundant herpetological communities at each site (p < 0.05). These riparian forests may serve as sources for species that are recolonizing reforested areas. Additionally, analyses of habitat characteristics indicated increasing tree diversity promotes a higher abundance of herpetofauna at reforestation sites. Along with the preservation of forested riparian areas, we suggest reforestation practices that increase tree diversity, even if timber production is the main goal.

Available for download on Sunday, June 27, 2021

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