Annotated checklist of the reptiles and amphibians of Leyte, Philippines with notes on their ecology and conservation


Author(s): Wolfgang Denzer1, Klaus Henle2, Maren Gaulkea3, Josef Margraf4and Paciencia P. Milan4

Abstract

An annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Leyte, Philippines is presented. Currently, 24 frog species, 6 turtles, l crocodile, 39 lizards, and 28 snakes are known from Leyte. Bufo marinus, Pelophryne lighti, Platymantis ingeri, P. spelaeus, Nyctixalus spinosus, Kaloula baleata, Gekko mindorensis, Bronchocela cristatella, Draco ornatus, Gonocephalus interruptus, G. sophiae,Mabuya multifasciata. Rhamphotyphlops braminus, Python reticulatus, Oligodon modestum, Boiga dendrophila, Dendrelaphis pictus, and Tropidolaemus wagleri are reported for the first time from Leyte. Platymantis corrugatus is synonymized with P. dorsalis. Calamaria joloensis as is regarded as an unusual juvenile C. gervaisi. Taxonomic problems within the genus Draco. are pointed out Zoogeographically, the new record of G. mindorensis for the offshore island of Leyte and of the very rare Platymantis spelaeus is remarkable. In comparison to other Philippine islands of similar size, Leyte has the largest number of species but has no endemic species. The herpetofaunal similarity of Leyte and Dinagat which were connected during the Pleistocene is higher for reptiles but not for amphibians compared to Leyte and Negros which were not connected.
In the Mt. Pangasugan region, one of the last areas with extant native rainforest; 63% of the species known from Leyte have been found. Potential indicator species for ecological changes caused by forest clearing for kaingin farming and for the restoration success of agroforestry are discussed. Some of these species are only useful on Leyte whereas others show a wider potential application. Forty-eight percent of the species (observed more than five times) are restricted to primary or secondary forest and are very prone to extinction. Two species, Crocodylus sp. and Heosemys leytensis, are extinct in Leyte, the latter possibly elsewhere as well. In addition, 7 – 9 species (for two of them, Leyte may be an erroneous locality) have not been observed for more than 50 years. Five of them are restricted to primary forest. Finally, three species of sea turtles are rare in the waters around Leyte, and the lizards Gekko mindorensis and Entoia atrocostata are restricted to single offshore islands.

Keywords : Philippines, Leyte, Reptilia, Amphibia, checklist, new records, taxonomy, habitat requirements, indicator species, biogeography, conservation.

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