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Amphibian species and functional diversity as indicators of restoration success in tropical montane forest

Díaz-García, Juan M., Pineda, Eduardo, López-Barrera, Fabiola, Moreno, Claudia E.
Biodiversity and conservation 2017 v.26 no.11 pp. 2569-2589
amphibians, cattle, ecosystems, environmental factors, fauna, forest restoration, functional diversity, habitat fragmentation, land use, microclimate, microhabitats, moieties, pastures, species diversity, tropical montane cloud forests, vegetation structure, Mexico
Tropical forest restoration is increasingly seen as an activity that may counteract or reduce biodiversity loss. However, few studies monitor fauna or consider measures of functional diversity to assess restoration success. We assessed the effect of a tropical montane forest restoration program on species and functional diversity, using amphibians as the target group. We compared amphibian assemblages in three types of land use: restoration areas, tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF; reference ecosystem) and cattle pastures (degraded ecosystem) in southern Mexico. We also described microclimate, microhabitat heterogeneity, woody vegetation structure and diversity for each type of land use, and their relationship to amphibian species and functional diversity. Compared to TMCF, restoration areas had similar environmental conditions. However, amphibian species richness was similar in the three types of land use and abundance was lower in the restoration areas. In TMCF, the amphibian assemblage was dominated by forest-specialist species, the pastures by generalist species, and the restoration areas by a combination of both species types. Interestingly, functional richness, functional evenness and functional divergence did not vary with land use, though the number of functional groups in restoration areas and TMCF was slightly higher. Overall, the results suggest that after seven years, active restoration provided habitat heterogeneity and recovered woody vegetation capable of maintaining amphibian species and functional groups similar to those inhabiting TMCF. Forest fragments adjacent to restoration areas seem to facilitate fauna recolonization and this emphasizes the importance of the conservation of the reference ecosystems to achieving restoration success.