Tuesday, August 16, 2016

[Herpetology • 2015] Notes on the Natural History and Morphology of the Ningshan Lined Snake Stichophanes ningshaanensis Yuen, 1983 (Ophidia: Colubridae) and Its Distribution in the Shennongjia National Nature Reserve, China


Stichophanes ningshaanensis Yuen, 1983 
Close up of the head, showing detail of the scales, and illustrating the indistinct neck of the species.  

 Photo: Kevin R. Messenger. 

Abstract

The present study reports on the natural history of the Ningshan Lined Snake (Stichophanes ningshaanensis) in the Shennongjia National Nature Reserve (NNR) in western Hubei Province, China. Prior to this work, little was known about the natural history of this species due to a paucity of specimens since the original description in 1983. Since its discovery, only the original three specimens were known to science, all of which are now lost or destroyed. Over the course of five summers, we observed 24 specimens within the Shennongjia NNR. We report on its natural history, including seasonal activity, habitat and environmental preferences, breeding behavior, sexual dimorphism, and incubation data for the eggs. We reiterate the morphological differences between Stichophanes, its former genus Oligodon, and members of Pareatidae. In China, Stichophanes is not protected under law due to the species being classified as “Data Deficient.” The species exhibits sexual dimorphism and dichromatism, i.e., males are smaller than females and the sexes differ in color. The species has unique breeding habits in mid-summer, and copulation occurs immediately after oviposition of the females. The number of eggs per clutch ranges from eight to nine, and takes 64 days to hatch.

Key words. Oligodon, Pareas, Asia, slug eaters, reproduction



Fig. 3. Close up of the head, showing detail of the scales, and illustrating the indistinct neck of the species.
Photo: Kevin R. Messenger.

Messenger KR, Wang Y. 2015. Notes on the Natural History and Morphology of the Ningshan Lined Snake (Stichophanes ningshaanensis Yuen, 1983; Ophidia: Colubridae) and Its Distribution in the Shennongjia National Nature Reserve, China. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation. 9(2) [General Section]: 111–119 (e103).  

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