William R Branch

William R Branch
Nelson Mandela University | NMMU · Department of Zoology

About

272
Publications
205,428
Reads
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7,276
Citations
Citations since 2016
57 Research Items
3511 Citations
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
20162017201820192020202120220100200300400500
Additional affiliations
May 2010 - present
Nelson Mandela University
Position
  • Research Associate
December 1979 - present
Port Elizabeth Museum
Port Elizabeth Museum
Position
  • Curator Emeritus - Herpetology
Description
  • Retired in 2011 after serving as Curator of Herpetology for 32 years (1979-2011)

Publications

Publications (272)
Article
Here we provide the first phylogenetic analysis that include Afrogecko ansorgii and a detailed morphological comparison with other species of leaf-toed geckos. For this purpose, we used two mitochondrial (16S, ND2) and four nuclear (RAG1, RAG2, CMOS, PDC) genes to produce a robust phylogenetic reconstruction. This allowed us to show that A. ansorgi...
Article
Full-text available
Background The African continent is comprised of several different biomes, although savanna is the most prevalent. The current heterogeneous landscape was formed through long-term vegetation shifts as a result of the global cooling trend since the Oligocene epoch. The overwhelming trend was a shift from primarily forest, to primarily savanna. As su...
Article
Full-text available
Four new species of flat geckos in the Afroedura bogerti Loveridge, 1944 group are described from south-western and west-central Angola. The description of these new species significantly restricts the distribution range of typical A. bogerti , a morphologically very similar species, from which they differ genetically by 5.9–12% divergence for the...
Article
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The Scaled Sandveld Lizard Nucras scalaris Laurent, 1964 is a poorly known lacertid endemic to north-eastern Angola and is only known from the type series collected more than half a century ago. The original description provided a comprehensive morphological description, but there was a lack of information regarding its evolutionary relationships a...
Article
The African colubrid snake genus Crotaphopeltis currently comprises six species and occurs throughout sub‐Saharan Africa. The most widespread of these, Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia, inhabits most biomes, aside from rainforest and hyper‐arid regions, and its catholic niche has presumably facilitated substantial gene flow. Despite this, the geographical...
Article
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Bicuar National Park (BNP) is a protected area in southwestern Angola where biodiversity has been poorly studied. BNP is located on the Angolan plateau on Kalahari sands, in a transition zone between the Angolan Miombo Woodland and the Zambezian Baikiaea Woodland ecoregions. Herpetological surveys were conducted in BNP and surrounding areas, throug...
Article
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A new endemic Sandveld Lizard, genus Nucras, is described from south-western Angola. Morphologically it resembles members of the Nucras tessellata group, but it is genetically separated and is sister to the larger tessellata + lalandii group. Although the genus is generally very conservative morphologically, the new species differs from other conge...
Article
A new species of tree snake Dipsadoboa montisilva Branch, Conradie & Tolley sp. nov. (Serpentes: Colubridae) is described from the ‘sky islands’ of Mount Mabu and Mount Ribáuè in northern Mozambique. Features of scalation, colour, body form and habitat distinguish the new species from other Dipsadoboa. This is supported by a phylogenetic analysis u...
Article
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Here we describe the invasion history in South Africa of the Common Dwarf Gecko Lygodactylus capensis (Smith, 1849), particularly into areas distant from its native range. We provide maps that include detailed records of translocations dating as far back as the early 1980s, describing the spread of populations through time. We find that this gecko...
Article
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Aim The expansion of open habitats during the mid‐Miocene has been hypothesized as a driver of allopatric speciation for many African taxa. This habitat‐dependent mode of diversification has been implicated in the shift from C3 (e.g. forest/woodland) to C4 dominated systems (i.e. open savanna, grasslands) in a number of African squamates. We examin...
Article
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Two rare and endemic psammophines (Serpentes: Psammophiinae) occur in Angola. The taxonomic status of Psammophylax rhombeatus ocellatus Bocage, 1873 and Psammophis ansorgii Boulenger, 1905 have long remained problematic, with both having varied past and present taxonomic assignments, and whose distributions may therefore present zoogeographic anoma...
Article
Theory predicts that sexually dimorphic traits under strong sexual selection, particularly those involved with intersexual signaling, can accelerate speciation and produce bursts of diversification. Sexual dichromatism (sexual dimorphism in color) is widely used as a proxy for sexual selection and is associated with rapid diversification in several...
Article
Full-text available
Atractaspidines are poorly studied, fossorial snakes that are found throughout Africa and western Asia, including the Middle East. We employed concatenated gene-tree analyses and divergence dating approaches to investigate evolutionary relationships and biogeographic patterns of atractaspidines with a multi-locus data set consisting of three mitoch...
Data
Settings for high-resolution CT scans and DOI numbers for supporting files on the Morphosource website, in Microsoft Excel format. (XLSX)
Chapter
Full-text available
Os anfíbios de Angola têm sido estudados desde os meados do século xix por exploradores e cientistas de todo o Ocidente, com colecções depositadas em cerca de 20 museus e instituições da Europa, América do Norte e África. Este estudo sofreu uma interrupção significativa durante as quase quatro décadas da luta de libertação e guerra civil de Angola...
Article
The Port Elizabeth Museum herpetology collection contains 407 type specimens, representing 70 primary and 55 secondary squamate types. The type series comprise 93 African taxa (84 lizards and 9 snakes), of which 75 are still regarded as valid. It is the third largest primary reptile type collection in Africa. This is the first catalogue of this imp...
Article
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African snake-eaters of the genus Polemon are cryptic, fossorial snakes that mainly inhabit the forests of central, eastern, and western Africa. Molecular results from a previous study demonstrated that Polemon christyi is not monophyletic-two distinct lineages were recovered from Uganda (the type locality) and southeastern Democratic Republic of t...
Chapter
Full-text available
O estado actual do conhecimento sobre a diversidade dos répteis de Angola é aqui tratada no contexto da história da investigação herpetológica no país. A diversidade de répteis é comparada com a diversidade conhecida em regiões adjacentes de modo a permitir esclarecer questões taxonómicas e padrões biogeográficos. No final do século xix, mais de 67...
Article
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Northern Mozambique is one of the most poorly known regions in south-eastern Africa and only in the last decade has it received attention through a series of multi-collaborative biodiversity surveys. These surveys have revealed numerous new species but also species hitherto unrecorded from Mozambique. One of these is the Large-eyed Green snake, Phi...
Chapter
This review summarises the current status of our knowledge of Angolan reptile diversity, and places it into a historical context of understanding and growth. It is compared and contrasted with known diversity in adjacent regions to allow insight into taxonomic status and biogeographic patterns. Over 67% of Angolan reptiles were described by the end...
Chapter
Full-text available
Angolan amphibians have been studied since the mid-nineteenth century by explorers and scientists from all over the western world, and collections have been deposited in around 20 museums and institutions in Europe, Northern America, and Africa. A significant interruption of this study occurred during Angola’s liberation struggle and civil war for...
Article
Jackson's Forest Lizard (Adolfus jacksoni) is widespread throughout the highlands of the Albertine Rift, southern Uganda, western and central Kenya, and northern Tanzania. To understand the population genetics and phylogenetic relationships of this widespread taxon, we sequenced two mitochondrial (16S and cyt b) and two nuclear (c-mos and RAG1) gen...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This species has an relatively small area of occupancy (AOO) of 56 km2, but because it is found in at least two widely separated subpopulations, the extent of occurrence (EOO) is 785 km2 in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The two subpopulations are mainly found within 100 m of the high water mark on the shore or along the river bank of the...
Article
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A recent molecular revision of the snake-eyed skinks of the genus Panaspis Cope, 1868 uncovered extensive cryptic diversity within the P. wahlbergi (Smith, 1849) and P. maculicollis Jacobsen & Broadley, 2000 species complexes. We here describe an unnamed central and northern Namibian lineage of the P. maculicollis group as a new species. We base th...
Article
The African green and bush snakes of the genus Philothamnus currently comprises 21 species and three subspecies and occurs throughout sub-Saharan Africa. The genus has been the subject of previous taxonomic revisions based on traditional morphological characters and limited genetic assessment, and may not reflect their evolutionary history. Indeed,...
Preprint
Full-text available
Theory predicts that sexually dimorphic traits under strong sexual selection, particularly those involved with intersexual signaling, can accelerate speciation and produce bursts of diversification. Sexual dichromatism (sexual dimorphism in color) is widely used as a proxy for sexual selection and is associated with rapid diversification in several...
Article
Full-text available
The most poorly known section of the African Great Escarpment is located in Angola. It has been highlighted as a potential center of endemism for several biological groups, including herpetofauna. The region, which is critical for the conservation of Angolan biodiversity, requires urgent research. In the scope of the SASSCAL project, a herpetofauna...
Article
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English-born Donald George Broadley spent most of his adult life working as a herpetologist at two museums in Zimbabwe. His many taxonomic reviews and other publications made him one of the most respected experts on African reptiles and amphibians worldwide. Don passed away at home in Bulawayo on 10 March 2016. This obituary summarises, emphasises...
Article
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Seven specimens of Scolecoseps Loveridge, 1920 from the vicinity of Palma on the north coast of Mozambique are compared morphologically with other known material of this genus. The new material can be distinguished morphologically from all other Scolecoseps by the presence and position of certain head scales, particularly a supraciliary and four sm...
Article
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Southeast Angola has remained poorly studied as the extensive wetlands make movement difficult, as do the wide-spread land mines scattered during the long civil war. Due to its biodiversity and scenic beauty the Okavango Delta of Botswana was declared a World Heritage Site in 2014. Its survival as a functioning ecosystem and the world’s only major...
Article
Since 1957, all padlopers were considered Homopus, which was an anomaly, because only two species have four claws on the front and hind limbs. The revival of the genus Chersobius for the five-toed species (signatus, boulengeri and solus) now limits Homopus to the four-toed species (areolatus and femoralis). Molecular data indicate that Homopus is p...
Article
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Angolan amphisbaenids are poorly known as these legless burrowing lizards are seldom found, and field work in Angola was inhibited during the protracted civil war (1975–2002). The re-discovery of the endemic Monopeltis luandae four decades after its description is discussed, as well as the confusing type-locality of the endemic Monopeltis perplexus...
Article
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Donald G. Broadley was one of Africa’s most prolific recent authors. He produced over 410 articles, including numerous comprehensive and detailed taxonomic reviews of lizard and snake genera. A review of his scientific publications spanning over 50 years of herpetological research reveals three phases. The first (1958–1981) saw Don describe his fir...
Article
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The scope of Biodiversity Observations consists of papers describing observations about biodiversity in general, including animals, plants, algae and fungi. This includes observations of behaviour, breeding and flowering patterns, distributions and range extensions, foraging, food, movement, measurements, habitat and colouration/plumage variations....
Article
Full-text available
A new species of flat gecko, Afroedura gorongosa sp. nov., is described from Gorongosa National Park, Sofala Province, central Mozambique. The new species is morphologically similar to A. transvaalica and A. loveridgei, from both of which it is genetically distinct (15–17% divergence; 400 bp of 16S rRNA). Morphologically it can be distinguished fro...
Article
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In 1944 Loveridge described two new geckos from Angola, Afroedura karroica bogerti and Pachydactylus scutatus angolensis. The descriptions of both species have vague and confusing type localities and refinements are suggested based on early expedition reports, historical accounts from the region, and a review of cartographic material. Numerous new...
Article
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The question whether taxonomic descriptions naming new animal species without type specimen(s) deposited in collections should be accepted for publication by scientific journals and allowed by the Code has already been discussed in Zootaxa (Dubois & Nemésio 2007; Donegan 2008, 2009; Nemésio 2009a–b; Dubois 2009; Gentile & Snell 2009; Minelli 2009;...
Data
This plot is not part of the published stance but derives from it. The plot shows the number of authors by geographic region (courtesy of Dr. Diego Astua).
Article
Full-text available
Africa, inclusive of the West Indian Ocean islands, harbours 11 of the world’s 16 extant testudinid genera. Fossil records indicate that testudinids originated in Asia and dispersed first to North America and Europe (Early Eocene) and later to Africa (Late Eocene). We used mitochondrial (1870 bp) and nuclear (1416 bp) DNA sequence data to assess wh...
Article
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Angola's herpetofauna has been neglected for many years, but recent surveys have revealed unknown diversity and a consequent increase in the number of species recorded for the country. Most historical Angola surveys focused on the north-eastern and south-western parts of the country, with the south-east, now comprising the Kuando-Kubango Province,...
Article
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Using up to 2117 bp of mitochondrial DNA and up to 2012 bp of nuclear DNA, we analysed phylogeographic differentiation of six widely distributed species of African hinged terrapins (Pelusios spp.) representing different habitat types. Two taxa each live in savannahs or in forests and mesic savannahs, respectively, and the remaining two species occu...
Article
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The girdled lizard genus Cordylus is represented in Angola by two species, Cordylus angolensis and C. machadoi, separated from their nearest congeners by over 700 km. Here we describe a new species, Cordylus namakuiyus sp. nov., endemic to the arid lowlands west of the southern Angolan escarpment. Phylogenetic analysis using three mitochondrial and...
Article
Full-text available
We describe a new species of flat lizard (Platysaurus attenboroughi sp. nov.) from the Richtersveld of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa and the Fish River Canyon region of southern Namibia. This species was formerly confused with P. capensis from the Kamiesberg region of Namaqualand, South Africa. Genetic analysis based on one mtDNA and t...
Article
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Zootaxa 3936 (1): 042–070 www.mapress.com/zootaxa/ Article http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3936.1.2 http://zoobank.org/urn:lsid:zoobank.org: Abstract The Port Elizabeth Museum houses the consolidated herpetological collections of three provincial museums of the Eastern Cape, South Africa: the Port Elizabeth Museum (Port Elizabeth), the Amatole (...