n African Journal of Herpetology - Herpetofaunal utilisation of riparian buffer zones in an agricultural landscape near Mtunzini, South Africa : short communication - : short communication

Volume 56, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2156-4574
  • E-ISSN: 2153-3660
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We measured herpetofaunal species richness and abundance in riparian and non-riparian habitats of an agriculture-dominated landscape to compare herpetofaunal utilisation of these two habitat types. Riparian areas hosted higher mean species richness and abundance than non-riparian areas. Riparian and non-riparian areas differed significantly in their species assemblages, with riparian areas hosting 10 unique species and non-riparian areas, four unique species. Eighty percent of all herpetofaunal species detected during the survey were detected in riparian areas. We hypothesise that reduced species richness and abundance in non-riparian habitats has resulted from the use of biocides and harvesting regimes and / or the lack of structural complexity in agricultural monocultures. Our results highlight the value of riparian buffer zones in agricultural landscapes as riparian areas have the capacity to act as corridors connecting areas of suitable habitat as well as refugia that could allow for herpetofaunal colonisation of sub-optimal habitats or the recolonisation of restored habitats should future rehabilitation of the site be undertaken.

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