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Natural Resources Science


Background: Lowland areas in tropical East and Southeast Asia have a long history of conversion from forestland to agricultural land, with many remaining forests being chronically degraded by wood cutting, livestock grazing, and burning. Wetland-breeding amphibians that have evolved in lowland forests in the region have adjusted to changes in habitat composition caused by humans’ activities, and populations continue to persist. However, we have little understanding of the impacts of forest disturbance on these species beyond assessments of abundance and distribution, and species considered to be common and widespread have been largely neglected.

Methods: We examined body condition and sex ratios of toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus), predation risk in treefrogs (2 Polypedates spp.), and growth and survival of leaf litter frogs (2 Microhyla spp.) in agricultural land, degraded forest, and intact forest in two study areas, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Results: Toad populations exhibited higher body condition and female-biased sex ratios in intact forest. Predation of treefrog embryos by flies was lower in intact and degraded forests than in agricultural land. Embryonic survival and larval growth and survival in leaf litter frogs were lower in intact forests than in agricultural land. Results for each study were similar between study areas.

Discussion: For three of five of these common amphibian species, we documented signals of forest loss and disturbance in their populations. Although these species occur in disturbed habitats, loss of forest cover continues to degrade aspects of their population demography. We urge conservation biologists to consider that populations of species appearing to be common, widespread, and tolerant of human disturbance may be eroding over time.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.