We carried out a survey of reptiles and amphibians within Afromontane forest and woodland slopes of three inselbergs in northern Mozambique (Mount Mabu, Mount Namuli, and Mount Ribáuè). A total of 56 species (22 amphibians and 34 reptiles) were recorded during the current survey. Our findings substantially increase the number of herpetofaunal species recorded from these mountains (Mount Ribáuè 59%, Mount Mabu 37%, and Mount Namuli 11% of the total species), including one new country record and several putative new species. An updated checklist of the herpetofauna of these mountains is presented.
Key Words: Amphibia, Reptilia, conservation, diversity, new species
|Figure 2. Study area, northern Mozambique sky islands. |
A – Mount Mabu, B – Mount Namuli, C – Mount M’pàluwé to the left.
We have found eight putative new species through field identification, added additional species known from northern inselbergs (13 species to Mt. Mabu, five species to Mt. Namuli, and 19 species to Mt. M’pàluwé), and one new country record. Additional analyses are necessary, including barcoding and phylogenetic analyses, to determine whether these mountains are exceptionally high in species richness. We now know there are at least 30-40 species of reptiles and amphibians on each of these sky islands, many of which are montane endemics. Although the state of knowledge is growing for Mt. Mabu and Mt. Namuli and can be considered to be relatively well sampled, it is clear that Mt. Ribáuè isolates requires more work given the brevity of our survey. In addition, several other sky islands in the area have received little or no attention in terms of the herpetofaunal survey (e.g. Mt. Inago and Mt. Chiperone).
The present collection is essentially a preliminary assessment of amphibian and reptile diversity in the region and does not account for seasonal variation in activity of herpetofauna. Future surveys that are more comprehensive in space and over time should considerably increase our understanding of the regional diversity, endemism, and richness of these inselbergs. Although the state of biodiversity knowledge has grown for Mts. Mabu and Namuli, there is an urgent need for a clear understanding of the nature of threats, and mitigation measures that will directly improve protection of habitat. At Mt. Ribàué additional surveys are imperative, given the comparatively limited exploration on that mountain coupled with the apparent high rate of forest clearing. Overall, the sky islands of Mozambique clearly require additional surveys to quantify species richness and endemism for a broad range of taxonomic groups. Ultimately, a better understanding of the threats to biodiversity will allow for prioritisation of conservation interventions.
Werner Conradie, Gabriela Bittencourt-Silva, Hanlie M. Engelbrecht, Simon P. Loader, Michele Menegon, Cristóvão Nanvonamuquitxo, Michael Scott and Krystal A. Tolley. 2016. Exploration into the Hidden World of Mozambique’s Sky Island Forests: New Discoveries of Reptiles and Amphibians. Zoosystematics and Evolution. 92(2); 163-180. DOI: 10.3897/zse.92.9948