The Herpetofauna of Dakrong Nature Reserve, Quang Tri Province, Central Vietnam: Diversity, Ecology and Conservation

26 May 2023 Dakrong Nature Reserve, Vietnam, Asia Amphibians | Biodiversity | Education | Reptiles

Tan Nguyen

Vietnam's herpetofauna is in a state of flux, a real "classification bomb" with a 290 species of amphibian and 490 species of reptiles being recorded (Frost 2023; Uetz et al. 2023), many of whom are incredibly range restricted and endemic to the country. The rate of newly recognized amphibians and reptiles species are unlikely to slow down as new field sites are explored and new research methods are applied for example: advanced molecular analysis techniques.

However, most of the currently recognized species of reptiles and amphibians are threatened by extinction, with major threats to their populations primarily being habitat loss and overharvesting for human consumption.

First trip in Dakrong. © Lo Van Dung.

First trip in Dakrong. © Lo Van Dung.

Located in the centre of the Anmmanites mountain range in central Vietnam, Dakrong Nature Reserve is the intersection and transition between the two regions in the northern Anmmanites and the central Anmmanites. As the Anmmanites range is famous, for its high species diversity and endemism (Poyarkov et al. 2021), the herpetofaunal diversity currently recorded for Dakrong NR. is severely underestimated, and a number of new records including even undescribed species should be expected.

Even so, since its establishment in 2002, only 32 species of reptiles and 17 species of amphibians have been recorded in Dakrong NR. (Vietnam Administration of Forestry, 2021), however it contains many rare reptile species that need to be protected at a global level such as: Critically endangered (Platysternon megacephalum, Cuora galbinifrons, Sacalia quadriocellata), Endangered (Cyclemys oldhami), Vulnerable (Physignathus cocincinus, Python bivittatus). Currently, there have not been any surveys that extend our knowledge on faunistic, biogeographical, ecological and conservation aspects of this geographically unique area.

Therefore, conducting herpetofauna research to evaluate diversity, ecology and threat factors to propose conservation measures in this reserve is incredibly necessary and vital to future conservation of the region.

The project will be the first comprehensive study of amphibian and reptiles in Dakrong Nature Reserve, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, under special consideration priority will be the taxonomic, biogeographic and ecological aspects. Combining morphological, biogeographic and ecology data we will provide a comprehensive assessment of the diversity and status of herpetofauna in Dakrong. From this assessment we will be able to suggest conservation recommendations to the local authorities. The results will contribute to the development of capacity and provide managers with a comprehensive herpetofaunalogical tool on which conservation, scientific management, local community awareness projects can further be developed.

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