Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Kevin S. Godwin

Second Advisor

John J. Hutchens, Jr.

Third Advisor

James O. Luken


This project represents the first known attempt to systematically survey the herpetofauna of Laguna de Cube, Ecuador (Ramsar site number 1143) with respect to anthropogenic land use. Ramsar designation was based on the rarity of the wetland type in the region (Laguna is the only permanent, naturally occurring, freshwater wetland in Northwestern Ecuador) and the variety of wildlife found there. Sampling sites were equally distributed between treatments (i.e., forest fragments vs. fruit plantations) within humid, tropical, lowland forests. Sites were sampled over 2042 trap nights, which resulted in the capture of 200 individuals representing 23 species. Eighteen amphibian and two reptile species were added to the cumulative species list for this site as a result of this research. Area- and time-corrected species richness comparisons suggest that this site contains similar or greater species richness than any Amazonian site discussed in the literature. Due to the rareness of this habitat type in the region and the biological importance it represents, statistical comparisons were made at an a priori alpha level of 0.10. Forest fragments exhibited significantly greater species richness, diversity, and abundance than plantation sites. Species richness was inversely correlated with increasing pH. The results of this research corroborate the findings of earlier studies stressing the importance of primary and secondary rainforest habitat for the survival of rare or cryptic herpetofauna species and suggest the need for further investigation to facilitate the development of adaptive management strategies for this globally important wetland reserve.