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Vertebrates of Sinharaja

The complex vegetation structure of the rain forest provides a variety of dwelling places or niches for animals. Thus, not surprisingly, there is a rich diversity of fauna within a rain forest. Animals are often thought to be a passive or dependent component of the ecosystem that do not contribute actively to the continuity and growth of the forest. This, however, is contrary to the true facts. Although dependent on plants for food, animals also carry out functions vital to the growth of plants such as pollination and seed dispersal. These interaction and seed dispersal. These interaction are often complex and highly specialized, and have developed as plants and animals evolved together over millions of years. Studies on rain forest fauna, however, are relatively recent and little is known of their strategies for survival, and of the details of the role they play in propagating rain forest floral species. 

Vertebrate Fauna

 Unlike the flora, the fauna of the Sinharaja has received comparatively little attention, and descriptions of the fauna had been limited to the occasional report had been limited to the occasional report by enthusiasts. It was only as recently as 1981 that preliminary systematic investigation were initiated. These studies were confined to the western sector of the Reserve, the sector which had been seriously disturbed by the logging project of the 1970's, and were carried out mainly to determine the effects of logging and deforestation on small mammals. However, during this project a determined effort was also made to identify and inventorize the fauna in general, a very necessary task in view of the scarcity of information.

                        To date, a check-list of 262vertebrate species has been complied which includes 60 species endemic to Sri Lanka. Table 8 gives an analysis of the fauna of Sinharaja in relation to the total fauna of Sinharaja in relation to the total fauna of the Island. From this Table it is evident that there is a high degree of representation of the island's fauna, particularly endemic species at Sinharaja. At the moment, this check-list is the only one all the major vertebrate groups found in a single location.  

Table 8. Endemic and non-endemic vertebrate fauna of Sinharaja in relation to the fauna in Sri Lanka.

Vertebrate Group

Total no. of spa. in Sri Lanka No. of sps. in Sinharaja % of sps. in Sinharaja No. of endemic sps. in Sri Lanka No. of endemic sps. in Sinharaja % of endemic sps. at Sinharaja % of endemics out of total in sinharaja.
Fish 59 11 19% 16 3 19% 27%
Amphibia 37 20 54% 19 10 53% 50%
65 16 25% 34 6 18% 36%
79 29 37% 38 15 39% 52%
Birds 384 147 38% 20 18 90% 12%
Mammals 85 39 46% 12 8 67% 20%
Total 709 262 36% 139 60 43% 23%