Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Tropical Forests Are An Ideal Habitat for Wide Array of Wildlife Species

Written By

Muhammad Nawaz Rajpar

Submitted: 19 September 2017 Reviewed: 20 December 2017 Published: 01 August 2018

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.73315

From the Edited Volume

Tropical Forests - New Edition

Edited by Padmini Sudarshana, Madhugiri Nageswara-Rao and Jaya R. Soneji

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Abstract

Tropical forests are one of the most diverse (1 ha may contain more than 1000 plant species) and highly productive ecosystems on the earth. They cover 15.0% of the earth’s surface and harbored 80% terrestrial biodiversity. Tropical forests are home to thousands of endemic, rare, endangered, and threatened wildlife species, which play a significant role in ecosystem functions, such as pest control, pollinators, and seed dispersal. Wildlife species are bioindicators of the tropical forest ecosystems, that is, their presence or absence may provide the information about the habitat dynamics, such as vegetation structure, food resources, productivity, and anthropogenic disturbances. Despite being rich in wildlife resources, tropical forests have been extensively lost and degraded by human intervention, and their destruction is still continuous in a variety of ways. The current information on the tropical forests as an ideal habitat for a wide array of wildlife species is inadequate. It is highly essential to examine with solid grasp the suitability of the tropical forest as attractive habitat for diversity of wildlife species to understand their functional role fragile forest ecosystem and to formulate the better conservation and management strategies in future.

Keywords

  • tropical forest
  • diverse
  • wildlife
  • ecosystem
  • habitat
  • vegetation

1. General background

Tropical forests are located at tropics of Cancer 23°N and Capricorn at 23.5°S to equator (Figure 1) [1]. Around 60% of the tropical forest occurs in Latin America, 25% in Asia-Pacific regions, and rest 15% in Africa [2]. These forests covered <5.0% of earth’s surface and comprised of 17,000 million ha, which is equal to 44.0% of the world’s forest cover and exhibits a higher richness and diversity of flora and fauna species. Tropical forests are rich in vegetation composition and structure (Figure 2), which has formulated heterogeneity of habitats to attract the wide array of wildlife species to inhabit and utilize the food resources in order to perform various activities and to increase the numbers of their individuals [3]. The richness and diversity of vegetation could be due to the heterogeneity of topography, site quality, rainfall pattern, and temperature [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

Figure 1.

Location map of tropical forest around the world. Source: URL at http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/royptb/361/1465/195/F2.large.jpg.

Figure 2.

Esthetic view of tropical forest. Source: http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/briefings/200912-ForestGovernance.pdf.

Tropical forests are intact habitats, which are rich in vegetation diversity and food resources that have attracted higher diversity of endemic, rare, threatened, and endangered wildlife species (i.e., such as mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians). The wildlife species directly or indirectly depends on tropical forests to perform various activities, such as inhabit, forage, loaf, perch, and breed for their survival and existence. Determining the wildlife population community parameters in the tropical forest habitats is vital important to understand the dynamics of the tropical habitat, ecological processes, and habitat disturbance vital for the occurrence, survival, and conservation of wildlife species.

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2. Types of tropical forests

Tropical forests encompass 60% tropical rainforest, while remaining 40% are comprised of seasonally dry tropical forest, mangroves, tropical freshwater swamp forest, dry forest, open eucalyptus forests, tropical coniferous forest, savannah woodlands, and montane forests [10, 11, 12]. The tropical forests have been classified as (i) tropical moist broadleaf forests, (ii) tropical dry broadleaf forest, and (iii) tropical coniferous forest. The detail of each forest type has been given below:

2.1. Tropical moist broadleaf forests

These forests are the huge area located at equatorial belts between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn dominated with semi-evergreen and evergreen deciduous tree species. They receive >200 cm rainfall annually [13]. The tree canopy is multilayered, that is, upper story (emergent crown), medium layer, lower canopy, shrub layer, and understory. These forests are home for more than 50% of world wildlife species. The occurrence of higher number of wildlife species is due to diversity of vegetation (i.e., >1000 plant species/km2) and multilayered vegetation structure. For example, upper story is suitable habitats for apes, monkeys, flying squirrels, and birds (i.e., flycatchers), the understory layer harbored diversity of mammals (big cats) and avian species, (i.e., babblers, bulbuls, and pittas, etc.), while undergrowth vegetation is ideal habitat for gorillas, deer, amphibians, snakes, and lizards.

2.2. Tropical dry broadleaf forests

Tropical dry broadleaved forest is characterized with warm temperature and seasonal rainfalls that enable flora to withstand in rainy season as well as dry season to conserve water and shedding their leaves. These forests are located at tropical and subtropical latitudes, such as southern Mexico, Africa, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Central India, Indochina, Madagascar, New Caledonia, Eastern Bolivia and Central Brazil, Caribbean, North Andes, Ecuador, and Peru. They cover about 6 million km2 or 4% of the Earth’s surface [14] and are dominated by teak, ebony, bamboo, and fig trees [15]. The soil is highly productive, and tree canopy may attain 10–30 m tall. Tropical dry broadleaved forest is suitable habitat for mammals (white-fronted capuchin monkeys, mantled howler monkeys, shrews, bats, coyotes, foxes, ringtails, raccoons, badgers, bobcats, and mountain lions), birds (crested guan, magpie jay, hawks, and bull finches), snakes, lizards, etc.

2.3. Tropical coniferous forests

These forests occur in humid climate region at Nearctic and Neotropical Ecozones from Mid-Atlantic states to Nicaragua, the Greater Antilles, Bahamas, and Bermuda [16]. They are characterized by diverse coniferous species whose needles have adjusted to deal with low precipitation (around 2.4″ or 60 mm) and moderate temperature (18 or 64°C or higher). These forests are dominated by Pinus caribaea, P. tropicalis, P. chiapensis, P. tecunumanii, P. ayacahuite, P. maximin, Byrsonima crassifolia, Colpothrinax wrightii, Chrysobalanus icaco, Quercus cubana, Calophyllum pinetorum, Erythroxylum minutifolium, Phania cajalbanica, Vaccinium cubense, Hyperbaena columbica, Clusia rosea, Aristida spp., Andropogon spp., Quercus corrugata, Q. skinneri, Q. oleoides, Q. candicans, Q. acatenangensi, Q. brachystachys, Q. peduncularis, Q. polymorpha, and Q. conspersa. The crown canopy is close and thick, the understory is rich in shrubs and small trees, while the ground is dominantly covered with ferns and grasses. These forests has harbored wide array of mammals (such as Cervus unicolor, Muntiacus muntjak, Sus scrofa, Selenarctos thibetanus, Capricornis sumatraensis, Rafuta spp.) and bird species (i.e., Polyplectron chalcurum, Pericrocotus miniatus, Chloropsis venusta, Myophonus melanurus, Niltava sumatrana, Cinclidium diana, Pycnonotus leucogrammicus, P. tympanistrigus, Hypsipetes virescens, Zosterops atricapillus, Garrulax palliatus, Napothera rufipectus, etc.).

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3. Ecological importance of tropical forests

Tropical forests provide diverse ecosystem services, such as play major role in water cycle, that is, they return around 90.0% precipitation into the atmosphere in the form of water vapors, increase the life span of dams through reducing the sediments into rivers, mitigate the disasters through reducing soil erosion and land sliding, and reduce the intensity and severity of floods [17]. Tropical forests are vital important for human well-being, that is, they contribute major proportion in food security (i.e., around global crops and one-third food supply depend on wild pollinators), regulate weather condition, reduce the negative effects of climate change by acting pollution filters, and serve as storage biodiversity. It has been stated that tropical forest may harbor >50.0% of world’s terrestrial animal species [18]. Tropical forests play a crucial role in climate change, that is, the vegetation of tropical forest stored a huge amount of carbon taking from the atmosphere and stored in their various parts of the body (i.e., in leaves, stems, and roots, etc.) and serves as mega carbon storehouse or sinks (e.g., 25% store of world?s carbon). It has been known that tropical forest can store huge amount of carbon compared to those they release back into atmosphere, slow down the rate of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere, and reduce the effect of climate change. Hence, this indicated that tropical forests play a significant role to reduce the effects of climate change and reduce 12% emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Wildlife species are the essential component of the tropical forest ecosystem, that is, they play a major role, that is, pest control, pollination, and seed dispersal in tropical forest ecosystem [19]. At habitat level, the occurrence and richness of wildlife species represent a powerful tool to examine the current status of particular ecosystem. This could be that wildlife species are ecologically specialized in habitat use, diet, and highly sensitive to habitat and microclimate alteration [20, 21, 22].

Being rich in biodiversity, the tropical forests have been vanished and altered due to anthropogenic activities [23, 24, 25], habitat destruction and fragmentation, invasive species, over-exploitation, and climate change [26, 27, 28].

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4. Threats to tropical forests

Currently, tropical forests are facing severe potential threats due to human interventions, such as extensive habitat loss and degradation, isolation, and fragmentation due to heavy exploitation and conversions into agricultural fields and residential areas [29, 30, 31], which create a complex spatial disturbance [32, 33, 34]. More than 50% of the tropical forest areas have been lost during the past two decades through extensive deforestation for timber, fuelwood, agricultural expansion, and human-induced fire [35, 36, 37].

It has been stated that habitat loss and fragmentation of tropical forest is a major threat for wildlife species composition, relative abundance, species richness, and density, that is, it increases higher predation risk, reduced food occurrence and diversity, and genetic variability of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles [38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43]. This may alter habitat thus makes it less productive and attractive thus caused the shift of wildlife species into human-dominated landscape that might be unsuitable and less productive for them [44, 45, 46, 47, 48]. However, the consequence of habitat loss and degradation may vary from species to species depending upon the nature and extent of habitat alteration, availability of food resources, and the rate of predation and parasitism [49, 50].

In addition, climate change is an important factor, which has effects on wildlife species phenology, geographic distribution, physiology, vegetation composition, and food resources [51, 52]. Thus, it ultimately exerts negative effects on the population community parameters of the species, i.e., some becomes endangered, vulnerable, and threatened [53, 54, 55]. This might be that the climate change may cause the rising of temperature and declining of the precipitation, which make the tropical forest dry and highly susceptible to fire and prone them into shrub lands, grassland, and savannah. The alteration in microclimate may alter the vegetation species composition, richness, and diversity [56, 57].

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5. Wildlife fauna of tropical forests

5.1. Birds of tropical forests

Tropical forests are more diverse in vegetation structure and composition, which offer higher habitat complexity, that is, provide a diversity of nesting sites, greater protection from predators and harsh weather, and also plenty of food resources [58]. The vegetation climax and diversity had attracted a wide array of avian species, which are habitat and diet specialist in nature. For example, Black-naped Monarch—Hypothymis azurea—often prefers canopy and foraged on flying insects, Blue-headed Pitta—Pitta baudii—prefers to utilized the ground vegetation of evergreen broadleaved forest and prey on caterpillars of insects occurs in grasses, and Scarlet-rumped Trogon—Harpactes duvaucelli—is middle story bird often associated with evergreen broadleaved vegetation (Figures 35). They prefer to utilize old mature trees (large diameter and height) for foraging and nesting [59, 60]. Avian species often play a crucial role in forest ecosystem functions, that is, they pollinate the flowers and disperse the seeds from one part of the forest to another [61, 62, 63] and control the pest such as rodents, insects, and squirrels, which may cause damage to the forest foliage.

Figure 3.

Black-naped monarch—Hypothymis azurea.

Figure 4.

Blue-headed pitta—Pitta baudii.

Figure 5.

Scarlet-rumped Trogon—Harpactes duvaucelii.

Tropical forest birds are vulnerable to habitat loss, fragmentation, and changes in land use patterns [64, 65, 66, 67]. This could be that habitat loss and fragmentation may alter the vegetation structure and composition, reduce the food resources, increase predation and brood parasitism risk, and enhance the competition for food and space [68, 69, 70, 71]. It has been illustrated that in Southeast Asia, tropical forests are facing highest rate of habitat destruction [72, 73, 74, 75, 76], which exerts immense pressure on the habitat use, foraging behavior, and breeding success of avian species (Table 1).

FamilyScientific nameCommon nameReference
AccipitridaeHaliastur indusBrahminy kite[76]
Spilornis rufipectusSulawesi serpent eagle[76]
Accipiter trinotatusSpot-tailed goshawk[76]
Ictinaetus malayensisBlack eagle[76]
BucerotidaePenelopides exhartusSulawesi dwarf hornbill[76]
BucerotidaeRhyticeros cassidixKnobbed hornbill[76]
CampephagidaeCoracina bicolorPied cuckooshrike[76]
Coracina leucopygiaWhite-rumped cuckooshrike[76]
Coracina morioSulawesi cicadabird[76]
CardinalidaeCyanocompsa parellinaBlue bunting[77]
Passerina cyaneaIndigo bunting[77]
Granatellus sallaeiGray-throated chat[77]
Habia fuscicaudaRed-throated ant tanager[77]
Piranga roseogularisRose-throated ant tanager[77]
Piranga rubraSummer tanager[77]
ColumbidaeDucula aeneaGreen imperial pigeon[76]
Ducula forsteniWhite-bellied imperial pigeon[76]
Ducula luctuosaSliver-tipped imperial pigeon[76]
Macropygia amboinensisBrown cuckoo-dove[76]
Treron griseicaudaGray-checked green pigeon[76]
Ptilinopus melanospilaBlack-naped fruit dove[76]
Turacoena manadensisSulawesi black pigeon[76]
Patagioenas flavirostrisRed-billed pigeon[77]
Columbina passerinaCommon ground dove[77]
Columbina talpacotiRuddy ground dove[77]
Leptotila verreauxiWhite-tipped dove[77]
Leptotila jamaicensisCaribbean dove[77]
CorvidaeCorvus typicusPiping crow[76]
Psilorhinus morioBrown jay[77]
Cyanocorax yncasGreen jay[77]
Cyanocorax yucatanicusYucatan jay[77]
CuculidaeSurniculus lugubrisDrongo cuckoo[76]
Centropus celebensisBay coucal[76]
Piaya cayanaSquirrel cuckoo[77]
Dromococcyx phasianellusPheasant cuckoo[77]
DicaeidaeDicaeum aureolimbatumYellow-sided flowerpecker[76]
Dicaeum celebicumGray-sided flowerpecker[76]
DicruridaeDicrurus hottentottusHair-crested drongo[76]
EmberizidaeArremonops rufivirgatusOlive sparrow[77]
Arremonops chloronotusGreen-backed sparrow[77]
FringillidaeEuphonia affinisScrub euphonia[77]
Euphonia hirundinaceaYellow-throated euphonia[77]
FurnariidaeDendrocincla anabatinaTwany-winged woodpecker[77]
Dendrocincla homochroaRuddy woodpecker[77]
Sittasomus griseicapillusOlivaceous woodpecker[77]
Xiphorhynchus flavigasterIvory-billed woodpecker[77]
IcteridaeDives divesMelodious blackbird[77]
Molothrus aeneusBronzed cowbird[77]
Icterus prosthemelasBlack-cowled oriole[77]
Icterus cucullatusHooded oriole[77]
Icterus chrysaterYellow-backed oriole[77]
Icterus mesomelasYellow-tailed oriole[77]
Icterus auratusOrange oriole[77]
Icterus gularisAltamira oriole[77]
Amblycercus holosericeusYellow-billed cacique[77]
MimidaeMelanoptila glabrirostrisBlack catbird[77]
Dumetella carolinensisGray catbird[77]
MomotidaeMomotus momotaAmazonian motmot[77]
Eumomota superciliosaTurquoise-browed motmot[77]
MonarchidaeHypothymis azureaBlack-naped monarch[76]
NectariniidaeNectarinia aspasiaBlack sunbird[76]
OdontophoridaeDactylortyx thoracicusSinging quail[77]
OriolidaeOriolus chinensisBlack-naped oriole[76]
ParulidaeVermivora cyanopteraBlue-winged warbler[77]
Oreothlypis peregrinaTennessee warbler[77]
Setophaga americanaNorthern parula[77]
Setophaga magnoliaMagnolia warbler[77]
Setophaga caerulescensBlack-throated blue warbler[77]
Setophaga virensBlack-throated green warbler[77]
Setophaga dominicaYellow-throated warbler[77]
Mniotilta variaBlack-and-white warbler[77]
Setophaga ruticillaAmerican redstart[77]
Seiurus aurocapillaOvenbird[77]
Geothlypis trichasCommon yellowthroat[77]
Setophaga citrinaHooded warbler[77]
PellorneidaeTrichastoma celebenseSulawesi babbler[76]
PhasianidaeGallus gallusRed junglefowl[76]
PicidaeMulleripicus fulvusAshy woodpecker[76]
Melanerpes aurifronsGolden-fronted woodpecker[77]
Picoides scalarisLadder-backed woodpecker[77]
Veniliornis fumigatusSmoky-brown woodpecker[77]
Colaptes rubiginosusGolden-olive woodpecker[77]
Dryocopus lineatusLineated woodpecker[77]
PittidaePitta erythrogasterBlue-breasted pitta[76]
PolioptilidaeRamphocaenus melanurusLong-billed gnat wren[77]
Polioptila caeruleaBlue-gray gnatcatcher[77]
Polioptila plúmbeaTropical gnatcatcher[77]
PsittacidaeTanygnathus sumatranusBlue-backed parrot[76]
Aratinga nanaOlive-throated parakeet[77]
Amazona albifronsWhite-fronted parrot[77]
Trichoglossus ornatusOrnate lorikeet[76]
Prioniturus platurusGolden-mantled racquet-tailed parrot[76]
StenostriridaeCulicicapa heliantheaCitrine flycatcher[76]
SturnidaeAplonis panayensisAsian glossy starling[76]
Basilornis celebensisSulawesi-crested myna[76]
Streptocitta albicollisWhite-necked myna[76]
ThamnophilidaeThamnophilus doliatusBarred antshrike[77]
ThraupidaeEucometis penicillataGray-headed tanager[77]
Cyanerpes cyaneusRed-legged honeycreeper[77]
Sporophila torqueolaWhite-collard seedeater[77]
Tiaris olivaceusYellow-faced grassquit[77]
Saltator coerulescensGrayish saltator[77]
Saltator atricepsBlack-headed saltator[77]
TityridaePachyramphus majorGray-collared becard[77]
Pachyramphus aglaiaeRose-throated becard[77]
Tityra semifasciataMasked tityra[77]
Tityra inquisitorBlack-crownedt Tityra[77]
TroglodytidaePheugopedius maculipectusSpot-breasted wren[77]
Thryothorus ludovicianusCarolina wren[77]
Uropsila leucogastraWhite-bellied wren[77]
TrogonidaeTrogon melanocephalusBlack-headed trogon[77]
Trogon caligatusGartered trogon[77]
TurdidaeHylocichla mustelinaWood thrush[77]
TurdidaeTurdus grayiClay-colored thrush[77]
TyrannidaeCamptostoma imberbeNorthern beardless tyrannulet[77]
Myiopagis viridicataGreenish elaenia[77]
Elaenia flavogasterYellow-bellied elaenia[77]
Oncostoma cinereigulareNorthern bentbill[77]
Tolmomyias sulphurescensYellow-olive flatbill[77]
Platyrinchus cancrominusStub-tailed spadebill[77]
Contopus virensEastern wood pewee[77]
Contopus cinereusTropical pewee[77]
Empidonax minimusLeast flycatcher[77]
Attila spadiceusBright-rumped attila[77]
Myiarchus yucatanensisYucatan flycatcher[77]
Myiarchus tuberculiferDusky-capped flycatcher[77]
Myiarchus tyrannulusBrown-crested flycatcher[77]
Pitangus sulphuratusGreat kiskadee[77]
Megarynchus pitanguaBoat-billed flycatcher[77]
Myiozetetes similisSocial flycatcher[77]
Tyrannus melancholicusTropical kingbird[77]
Tyrannus couchiiCouch’s kingbird[77]
VireonidaeVireo griseusWhite-eyed vireo[77]
Vireo pallensMangrove vireo[77]
Vireo flavifronsYellow-throated vireo[77]
Hylophilus decurtatusLesser greenlet[77]
Cyclarhis gujanensisRufous-browed pepper shrike[77]
ZosteropidaeZosterops celebensePale-bellied white-eye[76]

Table 1.

List of bird species occurring in tropical forests.

5.2. Mammals of tropical forests

Mammals are crucial element of tropical forest ecosystems [78, 79]. They exhibit a wide range of niches, exploit diverse tropical forest resources, and play a crucial role in vegetation composition and ecosystem functions, i.e., they forage on the grasses, control weed, pollinate flowers especially bats, and disperse seed from one area to another area after consuming in the form of pallets [63, 80, 81, 82, 83].

Mammals are considered the third most threatened and endangered animals, for example, Mantled Hawler Monkey—Alouatta palliata—and Amazonian Tapir—Tapirus terrestris—(Figures 6 and 7) due to habitat loss and destruction, illegal hunting, and trapping [84, 85, 86]. It has been stated that >30% mammal species are threatened and their population is still declining day by day through a variety of ways [87] (Table 2).

Figure 6.

Mantled Hawler monkey—Alouatta palliata.

Figure 7.

Amazonian tapir—Tapirus terrestris.

FamilyScientific nameCommon nameReference
AtelidaeAlouatta palliataMantled howler monkey[87]
BovidaeCephalophus harveyiHarvey’s duiker[88]
Cephalophus spadixAbbott’s duiker[88]
Neotragus moschatusSuni[88]
Syncerus cafferAfrican buffalo[88]
BradypodidaeBradypus variegatusBrown-throated slot[87]
CanidaeLycalopex culpaeusAndean fox[87]
CebidaeCebus aequatorialisEcuadorian capuchin[87]
CercopithecidaeCercocebus sanjeiSanje mangabey[88]
Papio cynocephalusYellow baboon[88]
Procolobus gordonorumUdzungwa red colobus[88]
Colobus angolensisAngolan colobus[88]
CuniculidaeCuniculus pacaLowland paca[87]
DasyproctidaeDasyprocta punctataCentral American agouti[87]
DidelphidaeDidelphis marsupialisCommon opossum[87]
ElephantidaeLoxodonta africanaAfrican elephant[88]
ErinacaeidaeEchinosorex gymnuraMoon rat[89]
FelidaeHerpailurus yagouaroundiEyra cat[87]
Leopardus pardalisOcelot cat[87]
Puma concolorCougar[87]
Panthera pardusLeopard[88]
HerpestidaeHerpestes brachyurusShort-tailed mongoose[89]
HerpestidaeBdeogale crassicaudaBushy-tailed mongoose[88]
Mungos mungoBanded mongoose[88]
HystricidaeHystrix africaeaustralisCape porcupine[88]
MacroscelididaRhynchocyon cirneiCheckered elephant shrew[88]
Rhynchocyon udzungwensisGray-faced elephant shrew[88]
Petrodromus tetradactylusFour-toed elephant shrew[88]
MegalonychidaeCholoepus hoffmanniHoffmann’s two-toed slot[87]
MuridaeLeopoldamys sabanusLong-tailed giant rat[89]
Maxomys baeodonSmall spiny rat[89]
Maxomys ochraceiventerChestnut-bellied spiny rat[89]
Maxomys rajahRajah spiny rat[89]
Maxomys suriferRed spiny rat[89]
Maxomys whiteheadiWhitehead’s spiny rat[89]
Niviventer cremoriventerDark-tailed tree rat[89]
Rattus exulansPolynesian rat[89]
Rattus rattusBlack rat[89]
Rattus tiomanicusMalayan field rat[89]
Sundamys muelleriMuller’s giant sunda rat[89]
MustelidaeEira barbaraTayra[87]
Lontra longicaudisNeotropical otter[87]
Mellivora capensisHoney badger[88]
MyrmecophagidaeTamandua mexicanaNorthern tamandua[87]
NandiniidaeNandinia binotataAfrican palm civet[88]
NesomyidaeCricetomys gambianusGiant pouched rat[88]
ProcaviidaeDendrohyrax arboreusTree hyrax[88]
Nasua naricaWhite–nosed coati[87]
Potos flavusKinkajou[87]
SciuridaeSciurus granatensisRed–tailed squirrel[87]
Simosciurus stramineusGuayaquil squirrel[87]
Glyphotes simusSculptor squirrel[89]
Sundasciurus brookeiBrooke’s squirrel[89]
Sundasciurus hippurusHorse-tailed squirrel[89]
Lariscus hoseiFour–striped ground squirrel[89]
Sundasciurus lowiiLow’s squirrel[89]
Sundasciurus tenuisSlender squirrel[89]
Paraxeus vexillariusTanganyika mountain squirrel[88]
SuidaePotamochoerus larvatusBush pig[88]
TayassuidaePecari tajacuCollard peccary[87]
TupaiidaeTupaia gracilisSlender tree shrew[89]
Tupaia minorPygmy tree shrew[89]
Tupaia tanaLarge tree shrew[89]
ViverridaeCivettictis civettaAfrican civet[88]

Table 2.

List of mammal species occurring in tropical forests.

5.3. Amphibians of tropical forests

Amphibians are most abundant vertebrate in tropical forests, that is, they vary in color, behavior, habitat selection, size, and population density. Tropical amphibians are widely distributed and habitat specialist animals, that is, they often prefer the riparian areas of tropical forests (Figure 8). Amphibians depend on multiple environmental gradients and are closely associated with habitat types, such as riparian, forest, streams, and path or road edge. Amphibian community structure was influenced by habitat heterogeneity, stream turbidity, river size, water depth, occurrence of aquatic vegetation, and density of understorey vegetation [90]. They are closely associated with habitat structure, food resources, and microclimate variables, that is, temperature and precipitation.

Figure 8.

Silver long-fingered frog—Cardioglossa leucomystax.

The loss of amphibians seriously disturbed ecological function of tropical food chain and food web. This could be that they are important component in tropical food web, that is, have occupied diverse niches from planktivore to carnivore and often serves as major sources of food for wildlife species in tropical forest. From the ecological point of view, they are best indicators of habitat fragments, ecosystem stress, and aquatic pollution, etc. In addition, amphibians have been used in ecological, embryological, physiological, and genetic research purposes.

One-third populations of amphibian species had been listed as threatened and endangered due to human intervention [91, 92]. Habitat characteristics [93], habitat fragments due to forest logging [94, 95, 96, 97, 98], habitat loss and degradation [99, 100, 101], environment variables [102], invasive predator species [103], diseases [104], and leaf litter [105] are major driven factors which effect on amphibian assemblages and population parameters. However, the effect of these driven factors may vary depending on the nature of the habitat disturbance, change in microclimate, and alteration in food resource. This could be that the leaf litter, canopy cover, tree size, stream size, availability of river, and refuge areas are highly essential for their survival and reproduction (Table 3) [106, 107].

FamilyScientific nameCommon nameReference
ArthropleptidaeCardioglossa leucomystaxSilver long-fingered frog[108]
Leptopelis hyloidesAfrican tree frog[108]
Leptopelis occidentalisTai forest tree frog[108]
Leptopelis macrotisBig-eyed forest tree frog[108]
AstylosternidaeAstylosternus occidentalisWestern night frog[108]
BufonidaeRhinella marinaCane toad[109]
Incilius nebuliferCoastal-plain toad[109]
Ansonia muelleriMuller’s toad[111]
Chaunus marinusCane toad[110]
Ollotis marmoreaMarbled toad[110]
CeratobatrachidaePlatymantis corrugatusRough-backed forest frog[111]
CraugastoridaeCraugastor decoratusAdorned robber frog[109]
Craugastor mexicanusMexican robber frog[110]
Craugastor hobartsmithiPygmy robber frog[110]
DicroglossidaeLimnonectes magnusMindanao-fanged frog[111]
EleutherodactylidaeEleutherodactylus longipesLong-footed chirping frog[109]
Eleutherodactylus verrucipesBig-eared chirping frog[109]
Eleutherodactylus modestusBlunt-toed chirping frog[110]
Eleutherodactylus nitidusSpiny peeping frog[110]
HylidaeEcnomiohyla miotympanumSmall-eared tree frog[109]
Smilisca baudiniiBaudin’s tree frog[109]
Trachycephalus typhoniusWarty tree frog[109]
Exerodonta smaragdinaEmerald tree frog[110]
Pachymedusa dacnicolorMexican leaf frog[110]
Smilisca baudiniiMexican tree frog[110]
Smilisca fodiensLowland burrowing tree frog[110]
Tlalocohyla smithiiDwarf Mexican tree frog[110]
Trachycephalus venulosusVeined tree frog[110]
Triprion spatulatusShovel-nosed tree frog[110]
HyperoliidaeHyperolius concolorHallowell’s sedge frog[108]
Hyperolius guttulatusDotted reed frog[108]
Hyperolius picturatusTanzania reed frog[108]
Hyperolius sylvaticusBobiri reed frog[108]
Hyperolius zonatusNimba reed frog[108]
Hyperolius fusciventrisLime reed frog[108]
Hyperolius chlorosteusSierra Leone reed frog[108]
Afrixalus dorsalisBrown banana frog[108]
Afrixalus nigeriensisNigeria banana frog[108]
Afrixalus vibekaeNimba banana frog[108]
Kassina lamotteiRainforest running frog[108]
Acanthixalus sonjaeIvory Coast wart frog[108]
LeptodactylidaeLeptodactylus melanonotusBlack-backed frog[110]
MegophryidaeMegophrys stejnegeriMindanao-horned frog[111]
MicrohylidaeGastrophryne ustaTwo-spaded narrow-mouthed toad[110]
Kalophrynus pleurostigmaNarrow-mouthed frog[111]
PhrynobatrachidaePhrynobatrachus gutturosusChabanaud’s river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus fraterculusMacenta river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus guineensisGuinea river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus phyllophilusTai river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus liberiensisLiberia river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus alleniAllen’s river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus plicatusCoast river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus taiensisRugegewald river frog[108]
Phrynobatrachus annulatusRinged river frog[108]
RanidaeLithobates berlandieriRio Grande leopard frog[109]
Lithobates johniMoore’s frog[109]
Lithobates spectabilisShowy leopard frog[109]
Staurois natatorRock frog[111]
Rana grandoculaBig-eyed frog[111]
Lithobates forreriForr’ers grass frog[110]
RhacophoridaePolypedates leucomystaxFour-lined tree frog[111]
Philautus acutirostrisPointed-snouted tree frog[111]
Chiromantis rufescensAfrican foam-nested tree frog[108]

Table 3.

List of amphibian species occurring in tropical forests.

5.4. Reptiles of tropical forests

Tropical forest is diverse and complex ecosystem which harbors most abundant and diverse reptile species [112]. Reptiles are primary consumers, that is, they prey on many animal species, such as birds, mammals, and amphibians (Figure 9). They provide ecological services into tropical forest ecosystem, such as control the population of pest (i.e., insects, rodents, squirrels, tree shrews, small birds, etc. [113, 114], which are destructive to the vegetation. Likewise, they are also source of food for other animals, such as birds, mammals, amphibians, and even reptiles [115].

Figure 9.

Reticulated python—Python reticulatus.

Reptiles are facing severe threats due to human activities, that is, habitat loss, and indiscriminate trapping and hunting for their skin and food thus become threatened and endangered [116, 117, 118]. The population decline of various reptile species in tropical forest may cause ecological imbalance that effected on the ecological functions (Table 4) [119, 120].

FamilyScientific nameCommon nameReference
AgamidaeGonocephalus semperiMindoro forest dragon[111]
Ptyctolaemus gularisGreen fan-throated lizard[121]
Gerrhonotus liocephalusAlligator lizard[110]
BoidaeBoa constrictorRed-tailed boa snake[110]
ColubridaeBoiga dendrophilaGolden-ringed cat snake[111]
Psammodynastes pulverulentusCommon mock viper[111]
Oligodon maculatusBarred short-headed snake[111]
Calamaria gervaisiiPhilippine dwarf/Gervais’ worm Snake[111]
Lycodon dumeriliDumeril’s wolf snake[111]
Lycodon aulicusIndian wolf snake[121]
Lycodon jaraTwin-spotted wolf snake[121]
Lycodon zawiZaw’s wolf snake[121]
Oligodon dorsalisGray’s kukri snake[121]
Oligodon taeniolataStreaked kukri snake[121]
Psammodynastes pulverulentusCommon mock viper[121]
Ptyas korrosIndo–Chinese rat snake[121]
Ptyas mucosaOriental rat snake[121]
Rhabdophis subminiatusRed-necked Keelback snake[121]
Dipsas gaigeaeGaige’s thirst snail-eater snake[110]
Drymarchon coraisIndigo snake[110]
Drymobius margaritiferusSpeckled racer snake[110]
Imantodes gemmistratusCentral American tree snake[110]
Lampropeltis triangulumMilk snake[110]
Leptophis diplotropisPacific Coast parrot snake[110]
Masticophis mentovariusNeotropical whip snake[110]
Oxybelis aeneusMexican vine snake[110]
Senticolis triaspisGreen rat snake[110]
Sibon nebulataClouded snake[110]
Tantilla calamarinaPacific Coast centipede snake[110]
Trimorphodon biscutatusWestern Lyre snake[110]
DactyloidaeAnolis nebulosusClouded anole[110, 122]
DipsadidaeHypsiglena torquataNight snake[110]
Leptodeira maculataSouth-western cat-eyed snake[110]
Manolepis putnamiRidge-head snake[110]
Pseudoleptodeira latifasciataFalse cat-eyed snake[110]
Leptodeira uribeiUribe’s false cat-eyed snake[110]
ElapidaeNaja kaouthiaMonocled cobra[121]
Naja najaIndian cobra[121]
Ophiophagus hannahKing cobra[121]
Micrurus distansWest Mexican coral snake[110]
EublepharidaeColeonyx elegansYucatan-banded gecko[122]
GekkonidaeGekko mindorensisMindoro narrow-disked gecko[111]
Hemidactylus bowringiiOriental leaf-towed gecko[121]
Hemidactylus brookiiBrooke’s house gecko[121]
Hemidactylus flaviviridisYellow-bellied house gecko[121]
Hemidactylus frenatusPacific gecko[121]
Hemidactylus garnotiiIndo-Pacific gecko[121]
Hemidactylus platyurusFlat-tailed house gecko[121]
Coleonyx elegansYucatan-banded gecko[110]
Phyllodactylus laneiLane’s leaf-toed gecko[110]
Hemidactylus frenatusPacific gecko[122]
GeoemydidaeRhinoclemmys pulcherrimaPainted wood turtle[110]
Rhinoclemmys rubidaMexican-spotted wood turtle[110]
HelodermatidaeHeloderma horridumMexican-beaded lizard[110, 122]
IguanidaeCtenosaura pectinataMexican spiny-tailed iguana[110]
Iguana iguanaGreen iguana[110, 122]
Phrynosoma asioGiant-horned lizard[110]
Sceloporus horridusHorrible spiny lizard[110]
Ctenosaura pectinataMexican spiny-tailed iguana[122]
LeptotyphiopidaeLeptotyphlops humilisWestern thread/Blind snake[110]
MicrohylidaeHypopachus variolosusMexican narrow-mouthed toad[110]
PareidaePareas monticolaCommon slug snake[121]
PhrynosomatidaeSceloporus melanorhinusBlack-nosed lizard[110]
Sceloporus utiformisSpiny lizard[110]
Urosaurus bicarinatusTropical tree lizard[110, 122]
Phrynosoma asioGiant-horned lizard[122]
Sceloporus uniformis celaenorrhinusYellow–backed Spiny Lizard[122]
Phyllodactylus laneiLane’s leaf-toed gecko[122]
PlethodontidaeChiropterotriton chondrostegaGristle-headed splayfoot salamander[109]
PythonidaePython reticulatusReticulated python[111, 121]
Python molurusIndian/Black-tailed python[121]
Loxocemus bicolorMexican burrowing python[110]
ScincidaeSphenomorphus variegatusVariegated skink[111]
Sphenomorphus beyeriBeyer’s sphenomorphus[111]
Lipinia pulchellaYellow-striped slender tree skink[111]
Eutropis multicarinata borealisPhilippine mabuya[111]
Eutropis engleiSix–striped mabouya[111]
Lygosoma bowringiiBowring’s supple skink[121]
Lygosoma lineolatumStriped writhing skink[121]
Lygosoma punctataDotted writhing skink[121]
Sphenomorphus maculatusSpotted forest skink[121]
Takydromus khasiensisJava grass lizard[121]
Plestiodon parvulusSouthern pygmy skink[110]
Scincella assatusRed forest skink[110]
Marisora brachypodaMiddle American short-limbed skink[122]
TeiidaeAmeiva undulataRainbow amevia lizard[110]
Aspidoscelis lineattissimusMany-lined whiptail[110]
Aspidoscelis communis lineattissimaGiant whiptail lizard[110, 122]
TyphlopidaeRamphotyphlops braminusBrahminy blind snake[121]
Typhlops diardiiDiard’s blind snake[121]
Typhlops jerdoniJerdon’s worm snake[121]
VaranidaeVaranus bengalensisClouded monitor lizard[121]
Varanus flavescensYellow monitor lizard[121]
Varanus salvatorAsian water monitor lizard[121]
ViperidaeTropidolaemus wagleri subannulatusBornean-keeled pit viper[111]
Crotalus basiliscusBasilisk rattle snake[110]

Table 4.

List of reptile species occurs in tropical forest.

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6. Conclusion

In conclusion, this review has attempted to highlight that the tropical forests are ideal habitat for a variety of wildlife species, especially birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. This might be due to the occurrence of heterogeneity of vegetation structure and composition, richness and diversity of food resources, safe breeding and nesting sites, and shelter from predators and harsh weather. These forests should be kept intact, preserved, and managed scientifically on a sustainable basis to reduce the human interference and for future generation.

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7. Recommendation for future research and conservation

Furthermore, in future, a detailed research on the wildlife ecology should be carried out by investigating the effects of independent environmental variables with respect to the habitat selection and association, vegetation structure and composition, home range and distribution, population parameters, occurrence of food resources and distribution, influence of human interventions on wildlife population, habitat disturbance, etc. This will help to identify the threats facing different wildlife species and their habitats, indicate the current status of wildlife population within the landscape, and determine the productivity of the particular area.

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Written By

Muhammad Nawaz Rajpar

Submitted: 19 September 2017 Reviewed: 20 December 2017 Published: 01 August 2018