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  FORESTRY SYMPOSIUM 1996
COMPOSITION OF THE VERTEBRATE FAUNA IN THREE MONTANE ZONE PROTECTED AREAS OF SRI LANKA

C N B Bambaradeniya and Kithsiri B Ranawana
University of Peradeniya

A systematic survey was carried out from April to October 1995, to investigate the different groups of vertebrates in three montane zone protected areas (PA's) of Sri Lanka, namely Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve (HSNR, 1142 ha), Horton Plains National Park (HPNP,3160 ha ) and the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary (PWS, 22,380 ha). Each PA was thoroughly surveyed along pre-determined trails, and the vertebrates were recorded by both direct as well as indirect observations (calls, tracks, defecation, and scat analysis). The survey revealed the presence of a total of 176 species of vertebrates in these three PA's , of which 44 species (25%) are endemic to Sri Lanka. These included five species of fish (three endemics ), 15 species of amphibians (eight endemics), 15 species of reptiles (six endemics), 116 species of birds (23 endemics) and 25 species of mammals (four endemics). Comparisons of species composition of the vertebrate fauna in the three PA's revealed that 70 species (40%) were exclusive to PWS, seven species (4%) were exclusive to HSNR and seven species (4%) were exclusive to HPNP while 56 species (32%) were common to all three PA's. Beta diversity measurements (Whitaker's index and Jaccard measure) for the avifaunal communities of the three PA's indicated that avifauna at the PWS is very diverse, having a higher degree of change when compared to HSNR and HPNP, whose avifaunal communities showed a higher degree of similarity. Of the total number of vertebrate species recorded during this survey, 52 species (30%) are considered as nationally threatened today. This shows the importance of conserving these few remaining forest patches in the montane zone to ensure the survival of these vulnerable vertebrate fauna.

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Department of Forestry and Environmental Science,
University of Sri Jayewardenepura,Sri Lanka. 1999. All rights reserved.