Lightly-harvested rustic cocoa is a valuable land cover for amphibian and reptile conservation in human-modified rainforest landscapes
Tropical biodiversity is impacted by anthropogenic land covers such as agriculture. Land use has the ability to both negatively and positively impact tropical biodiversity. In the tropics, important crops are grown in tropical forested landscapes such as coffee and cocoa. These forest understories are also important habitats for highly sensitive and ecologically vulnerable amphibian species. Amphibians and reptiles are an understudied taxa in conservation ecology and targeted in this study.
Goals and Methods
The authors aim to determine if rustic cocoa plantations, when managed at low-intensities, could provide habitat for amphibians and reptiles. This study is conducted in the Lacandona rainforest region of Mexico, a neotropical biodiversity hotspot. The area is a mosaic of anthropogenic disturbances. The authors establish survey plots in forests and in cocoa plantations and recorded data on reptile and amphibian species with timed survey periods.
Conclusions and Takeaways
The authors find that shade cocoa plantations managed with low intensity can be a suitable habitat for amphibians and reptiles in an anthropogenically disturbed forested landscape. Though forests and cocoa plantations have many similar environmental variables and house the same amphibian and reptile species, the abundance of these species is much higher in cocoa. The authors conclude that rustic shade cocoa plantations in Lacandona are agroforestry systems that benefit forest specialist species of amphibians and reptiles.
Lightly-harvested rustic cocoa is a valuable land cover for amphibian and reptile conservation in human-modified rainforest landscapesAbstract. Journal of Tropical Ecology. 2022;38(5):312 - 321. doi:10.1017/S0266467422000219..