Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Factors affecting frog species richness in the Solomon Islands

Patrick Pikacha A B E , Clare Morrison C , Chris Filardi D and Luke Leung A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Gatton, Qld 4343, Australia.

B Present Address: School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld 4072, Australia.

C School of Environment, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Qld 4222, Australia.

D The Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science Conservation International, 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500, Arlington, VA 22202, USA.

E Corresponding author: p.pikacha@uq.edu.au

Pacific Conservation Biology - https://doi.org/10.1071/PC17011
Submitted: 7 April 2017  Accepted: 16 October 2017   Published online: 13 November 2017

Abstract

Studies across large oceanic archipelagos often provide an opportunity for testing different processes driving patterns of species richness. Frogs are among the most abundant vertebrates in the Solomon Islands but little is known of the factors influencing their richness patterns. This study used modelling to determine important ecological and biogeographic factors affecting the species richness of frogs at multiple locations on major islands across the archipelago. Between March 2009 and August 2012, 16 frog species were recorded along 109 transects placed in coastal, lowland, ridge and montane forests across 13 islands. Mean species richness was higher in the North Solomon Islands arc (6.2 species) and decreased eastwards towards the New Georgia islands (4.7 species), and Malaita (3.2 species). A plausible explanation is that the North Solomon Islands arc is closest to New Guinea, a major centre of dispersal in the south-west Pacific. Coastal (4.6 species) and freshwater (4.8 species) forests had lower predicted species richness than lowland, ridge, and montane forest types (all with 6.2 species). In addition, more frogs were predicted in areas with thin leaf litter (6.2 species), dense shrub cover (7.7 species), and moist soils (7.7 species), which are characteristic of undisturbed forests. These results suggest that frog conservation activities in the Solomon Islands should target islands in the west with intact lowland, ridge, and montane forests. Specific knowledge of this nature is vital for amphibian conservation on tropical islands experiencing extensive habitat loss, habitat modification and widespread predicted climate change impacts.

Additional keywords: dispersal centres, forest type, habitat, microclimate, Pleistocene connectivity


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