Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation (International Conservation and Development)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Christopher Servheen

Commitee Members

Stephen Siebert, Winsor Lowe


amphibian, chytrid, conservation, herpetofauna, Honduras, inventory, parataxonomist, reptile


University of Montana


Santa Barbara Mountain is an important and unique ecosystem in Honduras because of its topography and high proportion of endemic species. Despite its prospects for valuable discoveries and the profusion of threats to its biodiversity, there is almost no scientific information about Santa Barbara Mountain. This study is the first systematic investigation of hepetofauna species on the mountain. Research objectives included inventorying of the reptile and amphibian species present on Santa Barbara Mountain, identifying locations and microhabitat types where each species can be found, and determining if the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis is present and in which locations. A community education objective, which included training local people as field assistants, was also pursued as a means to promote conservation of amphibians and reptiles and Santa Barbara National Park. Research was conducted in four sites on Santa Barbara Mountain above 1000 meters, from March through August 2011. Two multi-day camping trips were carried out in each site during which survey transects were conducted, including both day and night work. Data from opportunistic collection of specimens were also included. Amphibian specimens were tested for chytridiomycosis. Twenty-two species were documented, 14 of which are new reports for the mountain. The species most commonly encountered in surveys was Craugastor laticeps followed by Dendrotriton sanctibarbarus. The results of the chytrid analysis were inconclusive but included potential positive detections of the disease at two locations. Local people were invaluable as field assistants and demonstrated an interest in the species as well as a willingness to change previous misconceptions about herpetofauna. This study has added greatly to the knowledge of Santa Barbara Mountain, nearly doubling the number of documented herpetofauna species; however, more comprehensive studies are needed. The window of opportunity to study and conserve this ecosystem may be brief given threats such as deforestation, climate change, and spread of chytridiomycosis.



© Copyright 2012 Alicia Marie Ward