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Tufts University

Publication Date

Fall 12-6-2014

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation

Abstract

Panama is home to the greatest diversity of species in all of Central America. It is home to 174 species of frogs, 35 of which are endemic to Panama. Frogs are a vital part of many ecosystems. They maintain insect populations and act as food sources for larger predators. Their job of maintaining insect populations is essential to curbing the spread of diseases. Additionally, scientists have found chemical compounds in the skin of frogs that can be used to treat pain and prevent infections. The main threat to the majority of frogs is the deadly fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), or the chytrid fungus. The chytrid fungus has driven many frog species completely extinct, and others can no longer exist in the wild due to its presence. The threat the fungus poses to the frogs of Panama is high, and at this point it has spread throughout the whole country. Therefore, it is important that knowledge about the statuses and distributions of Panamanian frog populations is kept up-to-date. In this paper, I examine two different areas of Panama for their diversity of different frog species. I conducted ten transects in each of the locations, and performed a Shannon-Weiner index calculation on individuals and species seen at each site to make a comparison of relative diversity. Between both sites, 16 total frog species were observed, six of which are known to be chytrid resistant, along with an additional 10 that are persevering through Bd’s invasion. The final index values of 2.19 for Sierra Llorona and 1.92 for El Valle were too close to show that there was a significant difference in the diversity of frog species between the two locations. The similar Shannon-Wiener index values suggest that the anthropogenic development of El Valle as well as chytrid are having the same level of impact on frog diversity, as the fungus alone is having on the species of Sierra Llorona, which is relatively untouched by humans.

Disciplines

Biodiversity | Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Sciences | International and Area Studies | Latin American Studies | Other Animal Sciences | Population Biology | Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology

 

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