Journal Article


Rohit NaniwadekarKarthikeyan Vasudevan
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Impact of Dams on Riparian Frog Communities in theSouthern Western Ghats, India

The Western Ghats is a global biodiversity hotspot and home to diverse and unique assemblages of amphibians. Several rivers originate from these mountains and hydropower is being tapped from them. The impacts of hydrological regulation of riparian ecosystems to wildlife and its habitat are poorly documented, and in particular the fate of frog populations is unknown. We examined the effects of dams on riparian frog communities in the Thamirabarani catchment in southern Western Ghats. We used nocturnal visual encounter surveys constrained for time, to document the species richness of frogs below and above the dam, and also at control sites in the same catchment. While we did not find differences in species richness below and above the dams, the frog community composition was significantly altered as a likely consequence of altered flow regime. The frog species compositions in control sites were similar to above-dam sites. Below-dam sites had a distinctly different species composition. Select endemic frog species appeared to be adversely impacted due to the dams. Below-dam sites had a greater proportion of generalist and widely distributed species. Dams in the Western Ghats appeared to adversely impact population of endemic species, particularly those belonging to the genus Nyctibatrachus that shows specialization for intact streams.