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The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents, Between Two Seas

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World-renowned for its biological diversity and model conservation system, Costa Rica is home to a wide variety of amphibians and reptiles, from the golden toad to the scorpion lizard to the black-headed bushmaster. Jay M. Savage has studied these fascinating creatures for more than forty years, and in The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica he provides the most comprehensive, up-to-date treatment of their biology and evolution ever produced. Costa Rica has played, and continues to play, a pivotal role in the study of tropical biology as well as the development of ecotourism and ecoprospecting, in part because more than half of the amphibians and reptiles in Costa Rica are also found elsewhere in Central America. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica will be an essential book for a wide audience of nature lovers, naturalists, ecotourists, field biologists, conservationists, government planners, and those interested in Central America more generally. "Written for the enthusiast as well as for the field researcher, this work is an excellent reference source for each of the 396 species of amphibians and reptiles that can be found in Costa Rica. Includes complete full-color photographs of all known species in the region, as well as maps showing their distribution patterns. . . . A must-have book for any library with interests in this subject area."—J. Elliott, Southeastern Naturalist
... The water anole, Anolis aquaticus, is a tropical semiaquatic lizard found near streams on lowland and premontane wet forests of southwestern Costa Rica and Panama (Savage 2002). Anolis aquaticus is small and brightly colored and uses boulders and rock crevices as refugia (Boyer and Swierk 2017;Putman et al. 2018), often diving into the water and remaining there for extended periods to escape threats (Swierk 2019;Boccia et al. 2021). ...
... Anolis aquaticus is small and brightly colored and uses boulders and rock crevices as refugia (Boyer and Swierk 2017;Putman et al. 2018), often diving into the water and remaining there for extended periods to escape threats (Swierk 2019;Boccia et al. 2021). This species is considered to be a thermoconformer (Savage 2002): its body temperature changes with the external temperature largely without additional thermoregulation (e.g., basking). Notably, A. aquaticus is a particularly cool-adapted species for the tropics, with field body temperatures averaging 20.8 °C over 4 years of study (Swierk, unpubl. ...
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Global climate change has profound effects on species, especially those in habitats already altered by humans. Tropical ectotherms are predicted to be at high risk from global temperature increases, particularly those adapted to cooler temperatures at higher altitudes. We investigated how one such species, the water anole (Anolis aquaticus), is affected by temperature stress similar to that of a warming climate across a gradient of human-altered habitats at high elevation sites. We conducted a field survey on thermal traits and measured lizard critical thermal maxima across the sites. From the field survey, we found that (1) lizards from the least disturbed site and (2) operative temperature models of lizards placed in the least disturbed site had lower temperatures than those from sites with histories of human disturbance. Individuals from the least disturbed site also demonstrated greater tolerance to high temperatures than those from the more disturbed sites, in both their critical thermal maxima and the time spent at high temperatures prior to reaching critical thermal maxima. Our results demonstrate within-species variability in responses to high temperatures, depending on habitat type, and provide insight into how tropical reptiles may fare in a warming world.
... Into the Jorge de Bravo neighborhood and surroundings, the249 Common coqui behaves like strong invader in disturbed areas near the introduction point, but it 250 seems that would be a weak invader outside where natural ecosystems are more dominant251 because potentially there is more biotic resistance(Meyer et al. 2021). The biodiversity level in252 the Costa Rican Caribbean is much higher than in islands like Puerto Rico or Hawaii, especially 253 vertebrate diversity such amphibian, reptiles(Savage, 2002), birds(Stiles and Skutch, 1989) or 254 bats (LaVal and Rodríguez, 2002) that could be potential competitors or predators for a noisy 255 species of Eleutherodactylus. For example, other native amphibians with a similar niche than the 256 Common coqui such as Tink frog (Diasporus diastema), Pigmy rain frog (Pristimantis ridens), 257Fleischmann's glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni) or Green-boned tree frog (Scinax 258 elaeochrous) also occur in the study area, including secondary growth, gardens, or perturbed 259 lands(Savage, 2002). ...
... The biodiversity level in252 the Costa Rican Caribbean is much higher than in islands like Puerto Rico or Hawaii, especially 253 vertebrate diversity such amphibian, reptiles(Savage, 2002), birds(Stiles and Skutch, 1989) or 254 bats (LaVal and Rodríguez, 2002) that could be potential competitors or predators for a noisy 255 species of Eleutherodactylus. For example, other native amphibians with a similar niche than the 256 Common coqui such as Tink frog (Diasporus diastema), Pigmy rain frog (Pristimantis ridens), 257Fleischmann's glass frog (Hyalinobatrachium fleischmanni) or Green-boned tree frog (Scinax 258 elaeochrous) also occur in the study area, including secondary growth, gardens, or perturbed 259 lands(Savage, 2002). It is likely that competition, prey abundance, predation and other factors260 can influence the habitat selection and dispersal of this species. ...
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The Puerto Rican Common coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) has a long history as 17 an invasive species in places such as Hawaii. Since its introduction in Costa Rica, scarce 18 information is available to understand why and how the habitat in the Turrialba town is suitable 19 for the species. Our goal was to analyze the habitat selection of E. coqui to identify if there are 20 key habitat features that explained its success there. We measured 9 site variables that may affect 21 the habitat selection of E. coqui in 92 survey units of 10 m radius distributed over a 500 m radius 22 from its introduction point. We registered the presence/pseudo-absence data of E. coqui and 23 environmental variables in each survey unit during eight surveys. We ran occupancy models to 24 2 determine the influence of the variables on the habitat selection and to estimate its detection 25 probability. We found that sites near the introduction point, containing abundant vegetation, 26 bromeliads, and palms have a higher probability to be occupied by E. coqui. The habitat selection 27 in Costa Rica shares characteristics with the populations of Puerto Rico and Hawaii. But, unlike 28 the case in Hawaii, in Costa Rica this species has maintained a limited dispersal because the 29 potentially higher biotic resistant, as well a sedentary behavior. However, the microhabitat 30 conditions used by E. coqui in the study site are common throughout the country. Therefore, 31 active management in new populations and environmental education programs to avoid human 32 transportation of the species is critical to reduce its dispersal. 33 34
... This species occurs from Costa Rica southward through central South America, including Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, the Guianas, and the Amazon basin to Peru, Bolivia, southern Brazil, and from a few localities in Misiones province in northeastern Argentina (Dixon et al. 1993, Savage 2002). ...
... This diurnal species occurs in humid forests, gallery forests, cloud forests, and forest edges (Dixon et al. 1993, Savage 2002, Rojas-Runjaic and Infante Rivero 2006, Köhler 2008. ...
... tomando en cuenta los hábitos diurnos y nocturnos de las taxa a estudiar. Para la Durante los recorridos realizados no se observaron salamandras y cecilias, probablemente por la dificultad que presenta observar estos grupos debido a sus hábitos fosoriales (Savage, 2002 obtenidos en campo, los estimadores no paramétricos Chao 1 y Ace means mostraron una completitud del 88% y 97% del inventario, indicando el registro de la mayoría de las especies para el sitio (12 spp). ...
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The Isla Galeta PPIG Protected Landscape, located in the province of Colón, Panama, houses a high diversity of plants and animals of interest for conservation, However, it is receiving anthropogenic pressures such as the presence of container ports and the expansion of residential projects in the buffer zone. Herpetofauna in this Protected Area has been partially studied and there is no updated inventory of amphibian species. In order to update the lists of amphibians and reptiles in this area, the richness, abundance and conservation status of these groups was determined. For the recording of species, we used the method of searching for transects, close to bodies of water, removing litter, fallen pieces and leaves of the plants. The species accumulation curve was used to assess the degree of confidence in the inventory. It registered 696 individuals and a wealth of 36 species, belonging to 12 species of amphibians and 24 species of reptiles. The study contributes with the knowledge of herpetofaunistic diversity of the province of Colón that can be useful in the Protected Areas Management Plans and the management of forest fragments in urban areas.
... We obtained snout-vent length of amphibians from the AmphiBIO database (Oliveira et al., 2017). For reptiles we obtained body-size data from the literature (Savage, 2002;Bartlett & Bartlett, 2003;Böhm et al., 2013;Fowler, 2018). We obtained body-size data for birds from the Handbook of the Birds of the World (del Hoyo et al., 2017), and for mammals we consulted the amniote life-history database (Myhrvold et al., 2015). ...
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Vicariance is the simplest explanation for divergence between sister lineages separated by a potential barrier, and the northern Andes would seem to provide an ideal example of a vicariant driver of divergence. We evaluated the potential role of the uplift of the Eastern Cordillera (EC) of the Colombian Andes and the Mérida Andes (MA) of Venezuela as drivers of vicariance between lowland populations co-distributed on both flanks. We synthesized published geological data and provided a new reconstruction showing that the EC-MA grew from north to south, reaching significant heights and separating drainages and changing sediment composition by 38–33 million years ago (Ma). A few lowland passes across the EC-MA may have reached their current heights (~1,900 m a.s.l.) at 3–5 Ma. We created a comparative phylogeographic data set for 37 lineages of lowland tetrapods. Based on molecular phylogenetic analyses, most divergences between sister populations or species across the EC-MA occurred during Pliocene and the Quaternary and a few during the latest Miocene, and coalescent simulations rejected synchronous divergence for most groups. Divergence times were on average slightly but significantly more recent in homeotherms relative to poikilotherms. Because divergence ages are mostly too recent relative to the geological history and too asynchronous relative to each other, divergence across the northern Andes may be better explained by organism-environment interactions concomitant with climate oscillations during the Pleistocene, and/or dispersal across portals through the Andes.
... During foraging, they search with their long fingers in crevices and knotholes, under tree bark, among leaves, and in palm tree sheaths (De Carvalho et al. 1989;Passos and Keuroghlian 1999). Therefore, it is expected to record more cases of predation of frogs than of other vertebrates because anurans are generally inactive during the day and shelter in foliage, under tree bark or in knotholes (Savage 2002). ...
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Although lion tamarins (Leontopithecus spp.) are known to prey upon frogs, no study has attempted to document the frequency and seasonal patterns of such events. In this study, we compiled data on frog predation by black lion tamarins, Leontopithecus chry-sopygus, in southeastern Brazil between 2014 and 2020. We investigated the effects of seasonality on predation rate and described the behaviour of the lion tamarins. In 1972 observation hours, we recorded 49 frog predation events. Predation was more intense in the beginning (April and May) and the end (August and September) of the dry season, suggesting seasonal variation. The observed pattern may be related to a combination of increased fruit availability in the rainy season and decreased frog activity in the height of the dry season. Compared to Saguinus mystax, the only other tamarin species for which there is available data, predation rate of anurans by black lion tamarins is five times higher. We suggest that frogs are an important item in the diet of black lion tamarins and reinforce the idea that vertebrate predation in some primates is seasonal. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Grinnell and Storer (1924) remarked of this species, "The long slender form of the body seems to be correlative of climbing ability, as 'tree' snakes in all parts of the world are of this general form." We noted that observations of this snake's climbing behavior mimicked unrelated species we have observed in tropical habitats, like the green parrot snake (Leptphis ahaetulla), brown vine snake (Oxybelis aeneus), and brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), all of which are considered fully arboreal (Rodda 1992;Savage 2002;Guyer and Donnelly 2005). California whipsnakes have similar morphological characteristics to other snakes that are considered arboreal: slender body, long length, relatively long tail (Hollowell 1853;Van Denburgh 1897, 1922Ortenburger 1928;Grismer 2002;Stebbins 2003). ...
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Aim Secondary forests regenerating from human disturbance are increasingly becoming a predominant forest type in many regions, and they play a significant role in forest community dynamics. Understanding the factors that underlie the variation in species responses during secondary succession is important for understanding community assembly and biodiversity monitoring and management. Because species vary in ecology and behaviour, responses to ecosystem change should vary among species. Here, we show that habitat type (riparian, upland), phylogeny, and species traits mediate anuran and lizard probability of occurrence and species richness in pasture and secondary forest. Location Sarapiquí and Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Methods We used phylogenetic occupancy models to estimate assemblage‐level and species‐specific responses to forest succession in 30 chronosequence sites that include pasture, secondary forest regenerating from pasture, and mature forest sites. Results For the majority of species, we found increasing probability of occurrence in upland habitats as forest regenerated from pasture to secondary forest and similar probability of occurrence in riparian habitats across pasture, secondary forest, and mature forest sites. Species' responses to forest stage were phylogenetically correlated, and the trend was especially strong for anuran response to pasture sites. Anurans with lentic larval habitat had a positive occupancy response to pasture upland habitat, and anurans with lotic larval habitat had a variable response to different forest stages compared to mature forest. Main Conclusions Our study, which focuses on sites that are minimally isolated from mature forest reference sites, indicated that anuran and lizard occupancy rapidly recovered to a level similar to mature forest in a relatively short time span (approximately 20 years). Riparian habitats are key ecosystem features in our system and provide refugia for organisms in early successional stages. Maintenance of vegetation along streams shows that we can mitigate forest conversion by maintaining riparian buffers.
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