Diversity of Guilds of Amphibian Larvae in North-Western Africa

The composition and diversity of biotic assemblages is regulated by a complex interplay of environmental features. We investigated the influence of climate and the aquatic habitat conditions on the larval traits and the structure of amphibian larval guilds in north-western Africa. We classified the species into morphological groups, based on external traits: body shape, size, and the relative positions of the eyes and oral apparatus. We characterized the guild diversity based on species richness and interspecific phylogenetic/functional relationships. The larvae of the urodeles were classified as typical of either the stream or pond type, and the anurans as typical of either the lentic-benthic or lentic-nektonic type. The variations in the body shapes of both urodeles and anurans were associated with the type of aquatic habitat (lentic vs lotic) and the types of predators present. Most of the urodele guilds (98.9%) contained a single species, whereas the anuran guilds were usually more diverse. Both the phylogenetic and functional diversity of the anuran guilds were positively influenced by the size of the aquatic habitat and negatively by aridity. In anurans, the benthic and nektonic morphological types frequently co-occurred, possibly influenced by their opportunistic breeding strategies ​
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