Tuesday, January 26, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis • A New Species of Karst Forest Bent-toed Gecko (genus Cyrtodactylus Gray) not yet threatened by foreign cement companies and A Summary of Peninsular Malaysia’s Endemic Karst Forest Herpetofauna and the need for its conservation


Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis
Grismer, Wood, Anuar, Davis, Cobos & Murdoch, 2016

Abstract

A new species of Bent-toed Gecko, Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. of the sworderi complex, is described from Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia and is differentiated from all other species in the sworderi complex by having a unique combination of characters including a maximum SVL of 74.7 mm; low, rounded, weakly keeled, body tubercles; 34–40 paravertebral tubercles; weak ventrolateral body fold lacking tubercles; 38–41 ventral scales; an abrupt transition between the posterior and ventral femoral scales; 20–23 subdigital lamellae on the fourth toe; enlarged femoral scales; no femoral or precloacal pores; no precloacal groove; wide caudal bands; and an evenly banded dorsal pattern. Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. is a scansorial, karst forest-adapted specialist endemic to the karst ecosystem surrounding Gunung Senyum and occurs on the vertical walls of the limestone towers as well as the branches, trunks, and leaves of the vegetation in the associated karst forest. Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. is the seventh species of karst forest-adapted Cyrtodactylus and the sixteenth endemic species of karst ecosystem reptile discovered in Peninsular Malaysia in the last seven years from only 12 different karst forests. This is a clear indication that many species remain to be discovered in the approximately 558 isolated karst ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia not yet surveyed. These data continue to underscore the importance of karst ecosystems as reservoirs of biodiversity and microendemism and that they constitute an important component of Peninsular Malaysia’s natural heritage and should be protected from the quarrying interests of foreign industrial companies.

Keywords: Reptilia, Cyrtodactylus, Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum, limestone forest, karst, Malaysia, new species, systematics, endemic, conservation


FIGURE 3. Left: Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. Upper left: LSUHC 12200 subadult female; middle left: 12201 juvenile; lower left; LSUHC 12209 adult female.
Right: Microhabitat of C. gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. at Gunung Senyum, Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia.

Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov.
Gunung Senyum Bent-toed Gecko | Cicak Gunung Senyum


Etymology. The specific epithet gunungsenyumensis refers to the type locality of Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia. It is hoped this name will underscore the importance of this Hutan Lipur as a sanctuary for this endemic species and keep it safe from the quarrying interests of foreign cement companies.

Distribution. Currently, Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. is known only from the type locality of Gunung Senyum, Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia (Fig. 1). Exploration of the adjacent karst towers of Gunung Jebak Puyoh and Bukit Terus (Fig. 5) to determine if this species occurs there as well is necessary.

Natural history. Hutan Lipur Gunung Senyum is a recreational area situated around three limestone hills: Gunung Senyum, Gunung Jebak Puyoh, and Bukit Terus (Fig. 5). The northernmost hill, Gunung Senyum, is the largest, reaching 525 m in elevation and covering 1.75 sq.km. Several large, open chambers and cave systems deeply incise and sculpt the periphery of this limestone hill, which is surrounded by karst forest vegetation. All specimens of the type series and two additional specimens not collected were active at night on the limestone walls or the adjacent karst vegetation (Fig. 3). Lizards were observed at night between 01030 and 2400 hrs on the vertical trunks of small trees as well as on thin, horizontal branches of low-growing shrubs. Lizards only occurred in areas
where karst rock-rubble had accumulated at the edge of the cliff faces and where the cliff faces were eroded and exfoliated, providing cracks and holes into which lizards were able to take refuge. This species is very wary and lizards would often flee during our approach. When captured, most quickly dropped their tails and only two specimens of the nine lizards observed had complete tails. This suggests this population may be under heavy predation. No gravid females or hatchlings were observed, indicating that the breeding season is not in March.


Discussion 
Cyrtodactylus gunungsenyumensis sp. nov. is the seventh known species of Bent-toed Gecko in Peninsular Malaysia adapted to a karst ecosystem (Table 6). Fortunately some of these karst forest species such as C. astrum Grismer, Wood, Quah, Anuar, Muin, Sumontha, Norhayati, Bauer, Wangkulangkul, Grismer & Pauwels; C. langkawiensis Grismer, Wood, Quah, Anuar, Muin, Sumontha, Norhayati, Bauer, Wangkulangkul, Grismer & Pauwels; C. gunungsenyumensis sp. nov., and C. metropolis Grismer, Wood, Chan, Anuar, Muin are found in protected areas, thus far from the reach of quarrying interests of foreign investors (Grismer et al. 2014b,c). Unfortunately others, such as C. guakanthanensis, C. sharkari Grismer, Wood, Anuar, Quah, Muin, Mohamed, Chan, Sumarli, Loredo & Heinz; and Cyrtodactylus sp. nov. (Grismer et al. in prep.) remain highly threatened (Grismer 2014a,c). 

The discovery of 16 new endemic species of karst ecosystem reptiles in only the last seven years (Grismer et al. 2008a,b, 2009, 2012, 2013a, 2014a,b,c,d,e) from only 12 different karst ecosystems (Table 1) is a strikingly clear indication that many other endemic species remain to be discovered in the approximately 558 isolated karst ecosystems in Peninsular Malaysia (Price 2014) we have not yet surveyed. The extremely high degree of floral and invertebrate endemism in these ecosystems is well-documented (Kiew 1991; Vermeulen & Whitten 1999; Clements et al. 2006) and it is becoming apparent that endemic reptiles will rank as the most important component of vertebrate endemism (Grismer et al. 2014c). To date, 15 of approximately 32 species of Cyrtodactylus (47%) in Thailand, approximately one of seven species (14%) in Cambodia, 10 of approximately 14 species (71%) in Laos, nine of approximately 37 species (24%) in Vietnam, and seven of 31 species (23%) in Peninsular Malaysia are endemic, karst ecosystem specialists (Table 6). Data for Myanmar are lacking and Sumatra, Java, and Borneo still remain too unexplored. Allowing so many of these ecosystems to be converted into cement by foreign industrial companies is an affront on the natural heritage of these nations and is seriously eroding the herpetological biodiversity of Southeast Asia.


Grismer, L. L., Wood, P. L., Jr., Anuar, S. Davis, H. R., Cobos, A. J., Murdoch, M. L. 2016. A New Species of Karst Forest Bent-toed Gecko (genus Cyrtodactylus Gray) not yet threatened by foreign cement companies and A Summary of Peninsular Malaysia’s Endemic Karst Forest Herpetofauna and the need for its conservation. 
Zootaxa. 4061(1)4061(1): 001–017. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4061.1.1 

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