Amphibian diversity on floating meadows in flooded forests of the Peruvian Amazon

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Floating meadows are often associated with Amazonian white-water flooded forests (varzea), where they grow between the tree line and open-water. Seasonal flooding in varzea results in an unstable forest floor for terrestrial species. However, floating meadows may offer a refuge for some species that would otherwise be displaced by rising water. Floating meadows consist of herbaceous water plants that begin growing at the end of the low water period, taking root in the waterlogged soils of river, channel and lake banks. As the water rises, some plant species grow rapidly upwards, others become free-floating and grow horizontally, expanding the surface area they occupy (Junk 1970, 1997). As water levels begin to recede, currents and rainfall can dislodge sections of floating meadows to create rafts that are then transported via the river current. The importance and diversity of floating meadows has been highlighted for several taxa (Goulding et al. 1996; Junk 1997; Schiesari et al. 2003; Dias et al. 2011; Ferreira et al. 2011), yet studies focusing on amphibian use of floating meadows are relatively scarce. Junk (1973) found that amphibians were rarely encountered on floating meadows. However, methodology was not provided by Junk (1973), and if nocturnal surveys were not undertaken, amphibians were unlikely to have been adequately sampled. Carrying out specific amphibian surveys, Hödl (1977) found 15 anuran species on floating meadows and concluded that this habitat was a potential breeding site. Hoogmoed (1993) published a list of the herpetofauna known to occur on or near to floating meadows in Suriname, Bolivia, and Brazil, adding to Hödl's (1977) list. This research brought the total number of amphibian species recorded on floating meadows to 26 (Hoogmoed 1993). On the Solimoes River, Schiesari et al. (2003) observed 42 individuals comprising eight anuran and one caecilian species, all on floating meadow rafts. They highlighted the importance of rafts of floating meadow vegetation as dispersal vectors for fish and potentially also for amphibians (Schiesari et al. 2003). In a preliminary study of only 18 days, Upton et al. (2011) found 16 anuran species on floating meadows. The amphibians recorded on floating meadow habitats to date are listed in Table 1. This paper aims to: 1) Update the current list of amphibians found on floating meadows in Peruvian varzea flooded forest, and 2) update the information on reproductive habitat use provided by Hödl (1977), which showed evidence of reproductive behavior on the floating meadow habitat
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-212
Number of pages4
JournalHerpetological Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2014
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