Data from: Spatial variation in anuran richness, diversity, and abundance across montane wetland habitat in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
van der Hoek, Yntze et al. (2019), Data from: Spatial variation in anuran richness, diversity, and abundance across montane wetland habitat in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.92m95r1
The spatial distribution of species has long sparked interest among ecologists and biogeographers, increasingly so in studies of species responses to climate change. However, field studies on spatial patterns of distribution, useful to inform conservation actions at local scales, are still lacking for many regions, especially the tropics. We studied elevational trends and species‐area relationships among anurans in wetland habitats within Volcanoes National Park (VNP) in Rwanda, part of the biodiverse Albertine Rift region. In VNP, wetlands are key sites for anuran reproduction, and anurans are likely threatened by wetland desiccation which has occurred for the last few decades. Between 2012 and 2017, we sampled anuran communities in ten VNP wetlands located along an elevational gradient of c. 600 m (from 2,546 to 3,188 m a.s.l.) and found at least eight species, including at least two Albertine Rift Endemics. We show that species richness, diversity, and abundance likely decline with a decrease in wetland size and with an increase in elevation, though additional sampling (e.g., at night) might be needed to derive definite conclusions. Larger wetlands at lower elevations contained most species and individuals, which indicates the potential threat of wetland size reduction (through desiccation) for anuran conservation. However, we also found that wetlands differed in species composition and that some species (e.g., Sclerophrys kisoloensis) were likely restricted in distribution to only a few of the smaller wetlands—suggesting that the conservation of each individual wetland should be prioritized, regardless of size. We propose that all wetlands in VNP require additional conservation measures, which should be based on knowledge gathered through long‐term monitoring of anuran communities and research on drivers of wetland decline. Only such extended research will allow us to understand the response of anurans in VNP to threats such as climate change and wetland desiccation.