Monday, May 13, 2013

[Herpetology • 2013] Bothriechis guifarroi | Guifarro's palm-pitviper • A relict lineage and new species of green palm-pitviper (Squamata, Viperidae, Bothriechis) from the Chortís Highlands of Mesoamerica

Figure 2. Photographs in life of the adult male holotype of Bothriechis guifarroi (UTA R-60303), with lateral and dorsal views of the head.
Photographs by JHT |  doi: 10.3897/zookeys.298.4834

A new species of palm-pitviper of the genus Bothriechis is described from Refugio de Vida Silvestre Texíguat in northern Honduras. The new species differs from congeners by having 19 dorsal scale rows at midbody, a bright green dorsal coloration in adults, the prelacunal scale fused to the second supralabial, and in representing a northern lineage that is sister to Bothriechis lateralis, which is distributed in Costa Rica and western Panama and is isolated from the new taxon by the Nicaraguan Depression. This represents the 15th endemic species occurring in Refugio de Vida Silvestre Texíguat, one of the richest herpetofaunal sites in Honduras, itself being the country with the highest degree of herpetofaunal endemism in Central America. We name this new species in honor of a Honduran conservationist slain in fighting against illegal logging, highlighting the sacrifices of rural activists in battling these issues and the critical importance of conservation in these areas.

Keywords: Bothriechis guifarroi sp. n. , Bothriechis lateralis, Bothriechis marchi, Central America, conservation, cryptic species, endemic, Honduras, Pico Bonito National Park, Texíguat Wildlife Refuge

Etymology. The specific name guifarroi is a patronym used to honor our colleague and friend, Honduran environmental leader Mario Guifarro of Olancho. Don Mario fearlessly led grassroots efforts to stop illegal logging in the indigenous Tawahka territory of eastern Honduras, despite repeated assassination attempts and threats on his own life and those of his compatriots. Don Mario was murdered on 15 September 2007, ironically Honduras’ Independence Day, while leading a mission to demarcate the boundaries of the Tawahka-Asangni Biosphere and stave off further illegal deforestation. On 21 July 2008, the only witness to Mario’s assassination, his son Shamir Guifarro Ramírez, was also murdered, along with Mario’s father-in-law, Henry Arturo Chacón, and mother-in-law, Nelda Ochoa, after they were followed out of the city of Juticalpa by unknown assailants.

Distribution. Populations genetically confirmed to represent Bothriechis guifarroi are found between 1, 015–1, 450 m elevation in the western portion of the Cordillera Nombre de Dios, Department of Atlántida, Honduras, within the boundaries of Refugio de Vida Silvestre Texíguat (Fig. 7). These localities lie within the Premontane Wet Forest and peripherally in the Lower Montane Wet Forest formations of Holdridge (1967; as applied by McCranie and Wilson 2002).

Josiah H. Townsend, Melissa Medina-Flores, Larry David Wilson, Robert C. Jadin and James D. Austin. 2013. A relict lineage and new species of green palm-pitviper (Squamata, Viperidae, Bothriechis) from the Chortís Highlands of Mesoamerica. ZooKeys. 298: 77–106, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.298.4834