A remarkable case of micro-endemism in Laonastes aenigmamus (Diatomyidae, Rodentia) revealed by nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequence data.
ABSTRACT: L. aenigmamus is endemic to the limestone formations of the Khammuan Province (Lao PDR), and is strongly specialized ecologically. From the survey of 137 individuals collected from 38 localities, we studied the phylogeography of this species using one mitochondrial (Cyt b) and two nuclear genes (BFIBR and GHR). Cyt b analyses reveal a strong mtDNA phylogeographical structure: 8 major geographical clades differing by 5-14% sequence divergence were identified, most of them corresponding to distinct karst areas. Nuclear markers display congruent results but with a less genetic structuring. Together, the data strongly suggest an inland insular model for Laonastes population structure. With 8 to 16 evolutionary significant units in a small area (about 200×50 km) this represents an exceptional example of micro-endemism. Our results suggest that L. aenigmamus may represent a complex of species and/or sub-species. The common ancestor of all Laonastes may have been widely distributed within the limestone formations of the Khammuan Province at the end of Miocene/beginning of the Pliocene. Parallel events of karst fragmentation and population isolation would have occurred during the Pleistocene or/and the end of the Pliocene. The limited gene flow detected between populations from different karst blocks restrains the likelihood of survival of Laonastes. This work increases the necessity for a strict protection of this rare animal and its habitat and provides exclusive information, essential to the organization of its protection.
Project description:The Laotian Rock Rat Laonastesaenigmamus Jenkins, Kilpatrick, Robinson & Timmins, 2005 was originally discovered in Lao People's Democratic Republic in 2005. This species has been recognized as the sole surviving member of the otherwise extinct rodent family Diatomyidae. Laonastesaenigmamus was initially reported only in limestone forests of Khammouane Province, Central Lao. A second population was recently discovered in Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park (PNKB NP), Quang Binh Province, Central Vietnam in 2011. The confirmed distribution range of L.aenigmamus in Vietnam is very small, approximately 150 km(2), covering low karst mountains in five communes of Minh Hoa District, Quang Binh Province, at elevations between 250 and 400 m asl. The Laotian Rock Rat inhabits the lower part of steep karst towers with many rock boulders and crevices under tall limestone evergreen forest. They use small rock crevices for their dens. The natural habitat of this species in PNKB NP has been affected by selected timber harvesting, however, a complex 3-4 layer forest structure is retained. The Laotian Rock Rat is omnivorous, feeding on parts (leaves, buds, fruits and roots) of 18 plant species and also some insects (cicada, mantis, grasshopper). The population of this species in PNKB NP is seriously threatened with extinction due to its very restricted distribution, high hunting pressure, and habitat disturbance. Laonastesaenigmamus is listed in the IUCN Red List as endangered and in the Wildlife and Aquatic Red List of Lao, however, this species has not been listed in the Red Data Book or any conservation legislative documents of Vietnam.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Paulina's Limestone Rat Saxatilomys paulinae Musser et al., 2005 was first discovered by Musser et al. (2005) based on specimens from the Khammouane Limestone National Biodiversity Conservation Area (NBCA) in Khammouane Province in central Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). This tower karst landscape is part of the Central Indochina Limestone massif, which extends eastward into north-central Vietnam in Quang Binh and Quang Tri Provinces. NEW INFORMATION:In April 2014, we conducted a rodent survey and collected four (4) whole specimens of Saxatilomys paulinae in Quang Binh province. This is the first record of Saxatilomys paulinae in Vietnam. External and craniodental characteristics of all specimens clearly exhibit the characters of Saxatilomys paulinae as described in Musser et al. (2005)?. The rats are of medium size (HB: 160.3 ± 2.03 mm, T: 192.3 ± 6.69 mm) with some specific morpological characteristics. The external and craniodental measurement of the specimens from Vietnam tend to be larger than those of specimens from Lao. However, this needs to be verified by more studies in future. The habitat of Saxatilomys paulinae in Vietnam is characterized by complicated terrain comprising low karst towers (around 400 m) with steep slopes covered under limestone humid evergreen forest. The forest has been affected by selected timber logging in the past, but still has a complex 4-layer structure. The population of Saxatilomys paulinae in Vietnam is threatened by rodent trapping/snaring and habitat disturbance. More status surveys should be conducted to assess the species distributional range and its population status for undertaking relevant conservation measures.
Project description:We report on a new species of the genus Micryletta from limestone karst areas in northern Vietnam, which is described on the basis of molecular and morphological evidence. Micryletta nigromaculata sp. nov. is restricted to narrow areas of subtropical forests covering karst massifs in Cat Ba National Park (Hai Phong Province) and Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh Province) at elevations of 90-150 m a.s.l. In the phylogenetic analyses, the new species is unambiguously positioned as a sister lineage to all remaining species of Micryletta. We also discuss genealogical relationships and taxonomic problems within the genus Micryletta, provide molecular evidence for the validity of M. erythropoda and discuss the taxonomic status of M. steinegeri. We suggest the new species should be considered as Endangered (B1ab(iii), EN) following the IUCN's Red List categories. A discussion on herpetofaunal diversity and conservation in threatened limestone karst massifs in Southeast Asia is provided.
Project description:Myanmar's recent transition from military rule towards a more democratic government has largely ended decades of political and economic isolation. Although Myanmar remains heavily forested, increased development in recent years has been accompanied by exceptionally high rates of forest loss. In this study, we document the rapid progression of deforestation in and around the proposed Lenya National Park, which includes some of the largest remaining areas of lowland evergreen rainforest in mainland Southeast Asia. The globally unique forests in this area are rich in biodiversity and remain a critical stronghold for many threatened and endangered species, including large charismatic fauna such as tiger and Asian elephant. We also conducted a rapid assessment survey of the herpetofauna of the proposed national park, which resulted in the discovery of two new species of bent-toed geckos, genus Cyrtodactylus. We describe these new species, C. lenya sp. nov. and C. payarhtanensis sp. nov., which were found in association with karst (i.e., limestone) rock formations within mature lowland wet evergreen forest. The two species were discovered less than 35 km apart and are each known from only a single locality. Because of the isolated nature of the karst formations in the proposed Lenya National Park, these geckos likely have geographical ranges restricted to the proposed protected area and are threatened by approaching deforestation. Although lowland evergreen rainforest has vanished from most of continental Southeast Asia, Myanmar can still take decisive action to preserve one of the most biodiverse places on Earth.
Project description:Karst hills, that is, jagged topography created by dissolution of limestone and other soluble rocks, are distributed extensively in tropical forest regions, including southern parts of China. They are characterized by a sharp mosaic of water and nutrient availability, from exposed hilltops with poor soil development to valleys with occasional flooding, to which trees show species-specific distributions. Here we report the relationship of leaf functional traits to habitat preference of tropical karst trees. We described leaf traits of 19 tropical tree species in a seasonal karst rainforest in Guangxi Province, China, 12 species in situ and 13 ex situ in a non-karst arboretum, which served as a common garden, with six species sampled in both. We examined how the measured leaf traits differed in relation to species' habitat affinity and evaluated trait consistency between natural habitats vs. the arboretum. Leaf mass per area (LMA) and optical traits (light absorption and reflectance characteristics between 400 and 1,050 nm) showed significant associations with each other and habitats, with hilltop species showing high values of LMA and low values of photochemical reflectance index (PRI). For the six species sampled in both the karst forest and the arboretum, LMA, leaf dry matter content, stomatal density, and vein length per area showed inconsistent within-species variations, whereas some traits (stomatal pore index and lamina thickness) were similar between the two sites. In conclusion, trees specialized in exposed karst hilltops with little soils are characterized by thick leaves with high tissue density indicative of conservative resources use, and this trait syndrome could potentially be sensed remotely with PRI.
Project description:A new blind loach species, Triplophysa erythraea sp. nov., from a karst cave in Hunan Province, central south China, is described based on morphology and cyt b gene sequencing. It can be distinguished from other species of Triplophysa by the following combination of characters: eyes absent; body scaleless and colorless; caudal-fin 17; maxillary barbel longest; fins transparent, compressed pectoral-fin reaching 2/3 distance between pectoral-fin and pelvic-fin origins; pelvic-fin and dorsal-fin origins relative; posterior chamber of airbladder well developed, long, oval, and dissociative.
Project description:Limestone Karst areas possess high levels of biodiversity and endemism. Primulina is a typical component of Karst endemic floras. The high species richness and wide distribution in various Karst microenvironments make the genus an idea model for studying speciation and local adaptation. In this study, we obtained 10 full-length sequences of the phytochrome PHYE from available transcriptome resources of Primulina and amplified partial sequences of PHYE from the genomic DNA of 74 Primulina species. Then, we used maximum-likelihood approaches to explore molecular evolution of PHYE in this Karst cave plant. The results showed that PHYE was dominated by purifying selection in both data sets, and two sites were identified as potentially under positive selection. Furthermore, the ? ratio varies greatly among different functional domains of PHYE and among different species lineages. These results suggest that potential positive selection in PHYE might have played an important role in the adaption of Primulina to heterogeneous light environments in Karst regions, and different species lineages might have been subjected to different selective pressures.
Project description:Exposed limestone karst landscapes, especially in the tropics, are often home to distinctive and specialized biotas. Among vertebrates, a particularly large number of karst-associated lizard taxa have been described, but for the vast majority, evidence of specific adaptions to karst is lacking. A number of studies, however, have provided evidence of consistent morphological trends in lizards that use complex, three-dimensional, saxicoline habitats such as those that typify karst areas. Here we combine morphological and genetic data to test whether a newly discovered gecko from an extremely rugged karst area in New Guinea shows morphological trends matching those observed in other lizards associated with complex rock habitats such as karst and caves. Consistent with predictions, the new species' head is flatter and narrower than similar-sized relatives, and it has proportionally larger eyes and longer limbs. These trends indicate this taxon represents the second documented instance of karst specialization in a New Guinean vertebrate, and suggest morphological traits to test for evidence of specialized ecological associations in the many karst-associated Cyrtodactylus taxa from Southeast Asia.
Project description:Abstract A new species of Cyrtodactylus is described on the basis of five specimens collected from the karst formations of Zhenkang County, Yunnan Province, China. Cyrtodactyluszhenkangensissp. nov. is recognized by having a unique combination of morphological characters, the most diagnostic being: 12–15 enlarged femoral scales on each thigh; 2–5 femoral pores on each thigh in males, 0–3 pitted scales on each thigh in females; eight or nine precloacal pores in a continuous row or separated by one poreless scale in males, 7–9 pitted scales in females; subcaudals enlarged, arranged alternately as single and double on anterior and mostly single at middle and posterior; dorsal surface of head with obvious reticulations. Phylogenetic analyses show that the new species is a member of the C.wayakonei species group and a sister taxon to a clade consisting of C.wayakonei and C.martini based on Maximum Likelihood analyses and Bayesian Inference and differs from its congeners by at least 12.0% genetic divergence in a fragment of the COI gene.
Project description:<i>Vatica najibiana</i> Ummul-Nazrah (Dipterocarpaceae), from the Relai Forest Reserve, Gua Musang, Kelantan and Gua Tanggang, Merapoh, Pahang, is described and illustrated. This species is Endangered and known from small populations restricted to two isolated karst limestone hills. The type locality, Relai Forest Reserve limestone, is currently under threat from encroaching oil palm plantations and ongoing logging, which, if it continues, will threaten the Kelantan population with extinction. The morphology of <i>V. najibiana</i> and the similar V. odorata subsp. odorata and <i>V. harmandiana</i> is compared.