Habitat Preferences

Habitat preferences for each amphibian species were recorded during the assessment using a standardized list (IUCN Habitats Classification Scheme) of major habitats. A summary of the most important habitats for amphibians is shown in Figure 12.

Major habitat preferences of amphibians
Figure 12. Major habitat preferences of amphibians.

 

The vast majority of amphibians – almost 5,000 – depend on forests. Other terrestrial habitats are much less preferred by amphibians, in particular the drier habitats, such as savannahs and deserts. These results are not surprising, as amphibians are well known for their preference for moist habitats.

Perhaps a more surprising result is that only 4,224 amphibians depend on freshwater during some stage of their life cycle. Amphibians are renowned for their dual lifestyle, starting off as youngsters in aquatic habitats then undergoing a metamorphosis to become terrestrial adults. However, although this is the most common life history strategy for amphibians, there are also many species that develop directly from eggs without a larval stage (and a few live-bearing species). Many of these species do not rely on freshwater habitats at any stage of their lives.

The freshwater habitats preferred by amphibians have been split depending on whether they are still or flowing, or swamp/marsh. Flowing freshwater habitats for amphibians are usually streams. Still freshwater habitats are often temporary rain pools or other small pools of freshwater. This distinction between freshwater habitats has a major influence on the likelihood that a species is threatened. Species that are associated with flowing water have a much higher likelihood of being threatened than those that use still water.