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Current status of the Crocodile Lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus Ahl, 1930 in Vietnam with implications for conservation measures

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The Crocodile lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus Ahl, 1930 is a monotypic species, with a distribution range restricted to small and isolated areas in southern China and northern Vietnam. Habitat destruction and illegal poaching are the main causes of alarming population declines and even extinction of some wild populations in China. While the Chinese population was estimated to comprise only 950 individuals in 2004, the existing status of the Vietnamese population remains unknown, since its discovery in 2002. our work provides the first estimation of the population size of S. croco - dilurus in Vietnam, which is essential baseline data for future conservation strategies. Our field research revealed a dramatically small population size of less than 100 mature individuals. This value falls substantially below published threshold sizes of several thousand individuals, required for the long-term persistence of a species. Our research highlights the urgent need to improve the conservation activities for this species in its natural habitats and suggests means for a translocation program to restore (minimum viable sizes of) the wild populations in northern Vietnam.
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Current status of the Crocodile Lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus
Ahl, 1930 in Vietnam with implications for conservation measures
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DAFC=<AFL@=!9KLLGL@= GF?/GF'Q0@MGF?*.:Q9>GJ=KL;GJJA<GJ0@=N=?=L9LAGF
AK<GEAF9L=<:Q=N=J?J==F:JG9<D=9>>GJ=KL9F<AFL=JEAP=<OAL@:9E:GG>GJ=KLOAL@AF
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FGF@A:=JF9LAGF K=9KGF G> L@= JG;G<AD= (AR9J< M= LG ALK KLJGF? 9KKG;A9LAGF OAL@
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KLJ=9EK O9K K9EHD=< MHKLJ=9E <MJAF? J=H=9L=< FA?@L =P;MJKAGFK :=LO==F  9F<
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9FAE9DK O=J= L9??=< 9F< J=D=9K=< GF L@= =P9;L K9E= HD9;= GF L@= >GDDGOAF? <9Q
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N9LAGFK:=LO==FE9KD9F<>GMJ KLJ=9EKAF GF?/GF'Q0@MGF?*.9L
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;9HLMJ=<AF<ANA<M9DO=J=J=;GJ<=<OAL@9#,/
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J=FL9?=?JGMHKNARBMN=FAD=/2(EEKM:9<MDLEE\/2(EE
9F<9<MDL/2(]EE%FBMJA=KO=J=J=;GJ<=<OAL@KH=;A9D9LL=FLAGFLGL@=;9M<9D
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AF<ANA<M9DKO=J=L9??=<OAL@H9KKAN= AFL=?J9L=< LJ9FKHGF<=J ,%0L9?K,%0L9?K9J=
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9F<NAJLM9DDQ FGAEHDA;9LAGFKGFEGNAF?KH==<?JGOL@J9L=9F<@=9DL@G>L@=9FAE9D
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D=>L :G<Q KA<= :=@AF< L@= K@GMD<=J G> =9;@ ;9HLMJ=< AF<ANA<M9D 0@= HMF;LMJ= O9K
;DGK=<OAL@H=LJGD9LME0@=>MF;LAGFAF?G>9DDEA;JG;@AHK@9<:==FL=KL=<=9JDA=JOAL@
9J=9<=JJ==<=J.=9<=J(,D9F=L% #E:$09??=<AF<ANA<M9DK<A<FGLK@GO9FQ
KA?FK G> AFBMJQ J=KMDLAF? >JGE L@= AFB=;LAGF 9F< O=J= J=D=9K=< OAL@AF  @GMJK G>
;9HLMJ=.=;9HLMJ=KO=J=A<=FLA>A=<9F<J=D=9K=<AEE=<A9L=DQ
Calculation0@=HGHMD9LAGFKAR=O9K=KLAE9L=<:Q9HHDQAF?9;9HLMJ=J=;9HLMJ=
E=L@G<EG<A>A=<>GJS. crocodilurus :Q$M9F?et al;;GJ<AF?DQO= ;9D;M
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9FAE9DKHJ=K=FL:ML FGLK==F<MJAF?L@=KMJN=QK0@AKE=L@G<O9KK=D=;L=<LG G:L9AF
;GEH9J9:D=<9L9 LG L@= =KLAE9L=K GFL@= @AF=K= HGHMD9LAGF 0@= ;9D;MD9LAGFG> L@=
`AFNAKA:ADALQ J9L=a O9K:9K=< GF L@J== ;GFK=;MLAN= LAE= KMJN=QK AFAFL=JN9DK G> 
<9QKOAL@AFL@=09Q5=F0M*.*^7Fi8O@=J=*AKL@=LGL9DHGHMD9LAGFKAR=
FAKL@=FME:=JG>G:K=JN=<AF<ANA<M9DK9DGF?9KLJ=9ELJ9FK=;L9F<AAKL@=`AFNAKA:D=
J9L=aAF<=Pi7^bn_an8^anO@=J=anAKL@=FME:=JG>G:K=JN=<AF<ANA<M9DKAF
L@=LJ9FK=;Ln<MJAF?L@=>AJKLKMJN=Q9F<bnAKL@=LGL9DFME:=JG>G:K=JN=<AF<ANA<M9DK
AFLJ9FK=;Ln0@=LJ9FK=;LF=IM9DKL@=KMJN=Q=<KLJ=9E
Statistical analyses/L9LAKLA;9D9F9DQKAKO9KH=J>GJE=<OAL@L@=HJG?J9E,/0
$9EE=J et al.   Chi20=KL O9K 9HHDA=< LG L=KL >GJ <A>>=J=F;=K 9EGF? 9?=
;D9KK=K9F< L@= G;;MJJ=F;=G> AFBMJA=K :=LO==F <A>>=J=FLDG;9DALA=K /A?FA>A;9FL <A>>=
J=F;=O9K<=;D9J=<>GJHHH9F<H
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Population size MJAF?L@=>A=D<J=K=9J;@S. crocodilurus O9K>GMF<AFK=N=F
<A>>=J=FLKLJ=9EKG>L@J==F9LMJ=J=K=JN=KLGL9DG>AF<ANA<M9DKO=J=;9HLMJ=<9F<
J=;9HLMJ==N=FLKLGGCHD9;=<MJAF?L@=KMJN=Q9K=<GF9;9D;MD9L=<AFNAKA:ADALQJ9L=
AF<=P G>  L@= LGL9D HGHMD9LAGF AF 2A=LF9E O9K =KLAE9L=< LG ;GEHJAK= 9:GML 
AF<ANA<M9DK>JGEO@A;@GFDQO=J=;GFKA<=J=<LG:=E9LMJ=09:0@=@A?@=KL
<=FKALQG>S. crocodilurus O9K>GMF<AF09Q5=F0M*.AF<ANA<M9DKH=JCELJ9FK=;L
KLJ=9EO@AD=<=FKALA=KO=J=DGO=KLAF GF?/GF'Q0@MGF?*.J9F?AF?>JGELG
AF<ANA<M9DKH=JCELJ9FK=;LKLJ=9E09:
Population structure 0@= FME:=J G> AF<ANA<M9DK ;9H9:D= G> J=HJG<M;LAGF AK
;JM;A9D>GJL@=KMJNAN9DG>L@=HGHMD9LAGF9F<L@MKK=JN=K 9K E=9KMJ= LG =N9DM9L= L@=
=F<9F?=JE=FLG>KH=;A=K%1*S. crocodilurus J=9;@=KE9LMJALQ9L9:GMLL@J==
Q=9JK5Met al.0@=9?=AK@A?@DQJ=D9L=<LGL@=9FAE9DKKAR=O@=J=:QL@=KFGML
N=FLD=F?L@HJGN=<LG:=L@=EGKL9HHJGHJA9L=E=9KMJ=;GJJ=KHGF<AF?LG:G<QKAR=AF
DAR9J<K9KL9ADK 9J= HJGF= LG :=AFBMJ=<)=AJA >J=IM=F;Q @AKLG?J9E G>L@=
KFGMLN=FLD=F?L@G>;9HLMJ=<S. crocodilurus J=N=9D=<LOGE9PAE99L9F<EE
"A?  0@AK H9LL=JF K@GOK L@9L L@= OAD< HGHMD9LAGF AFN=KLA?9L=< AF GMJ KLM<Q
;GFKAKL=<G>J=D9LAN=DQ@A?@FME:=JK G> BMN=FAD=K 9F< QGMF? 9<MDLK :MLGFDQG>>=O
KM:9<MDLK9F<:A?9<MDLK;GFKHA;MGMKJ=HJG<M;LAGFKM;;=KKO9KG:K=JN=<AFL@=09Q
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et al.  /@9>>=J et al  0@= ;GF;=HL G> 9 bEAFAEME NA9:D= HGHMD9LAGFc
)2,/@9>>=J@9K:==F>J=IM=FLDQ 9HHDA=< AF L=JEKG> KH=;A=K J=;GN=JQ 9F<
;GFK=JN9LAGFE9F9?=E=FLHJG?J9EK OAL@ J=D=N9F;= LGL@=%1*.=< (AKLcK;JAL=JA9
;GF;=JFAF?KE9DD9F<J9F?=J=KLJA;L=<HGHMD9LAGFK=?D9JCet al..==<et al
0J9ADDet al0@= )2,AK<=>AF=< 9K L@= KE9DD=KLL@J=K@GD< KAR=
O@A;@AKJ=IMAJ=<>GJ9HGHMD9LAGFGJ9KH=;A=KLG@9N=9HJ=<=L=JEAF=<HJG:9:ADALQG>
H=JKAKL=F;=>GJ9?AN=FD=F?L@G>LAE=.==<et al/@9>>=J!PH=JAE=FLK
GFAKGD9L=<KM:HGHMD9LAGFKJ=N=9D=<9DG;9D=PLAF;LAGFG>KM:HGHMD9LAGFKOAL@F 
9F<H=JKAKL=F;=OAL@F  AF<ANA<M9DK =J?=J3AL@J=KH=;L LGJ=HLAD=K9F<
9EH@A:A9FK0J9ADDet alKMEE9JAR=<)2,KJ9F?AF?>JGELGAF<ANA
<M9DK9F<KL9L=<L@9L)2,K?=F=J9DDQDA=AFL@=J9F?=G>K=N=J9DL@GMK9F<AF<ANA<M9DK
.==< et al  ;GF;DM<=< L@9L 9 HGHMD9LAGF KAR= G> 9L D=9KL  9<MDLK AF 9FQ
N=JL=:J9L=AK J=IMAJ=< LG;GH= OAL@ =NGDMLAGF9JQ 9F<<=EG?J9H@A; ;GFKLJ9AFLK AFL@=
DGF?L=JE 0@= HGHMD9LAGF KAR= G> S. crocodilurus AF 2A=LF9E O9K HJ=DAEAF9JQ
=KLAE9L=<LG;GEHJAK=9:GMLE9LMJ=AF<ANA<M9DK9F<L@MK:=AF?<J9E9LA;9DDQKE9DD=J
L@9F L@= @AF=K= HGHMD9LAGF OAL@  =KLAE9L=< AF<ANA<M9DK AF  $M9F? et al
0@=@A?@AF;A<=F;=G>BMN=FAD=KEGKL;GF;AK=OAL@AFL@=09Q5=F0M*.AEHDA
;9L=KL@9L L@=J=HJG<M;LAGF;9H9:ADALQG>L@=HGHMD9LAGFAKFGL=FLAJ=DQ;GFKLJ9AF=<:Q
;=JL9AFKLJ=KKGJK:MLJ9L@=JK=;GF<9JQ@9R9J<K9K@9:AL9L<=?J9<9LAGF9F<HG9;@AF?9J=
9KKME=< LG DAEAL L@= HGHMD9LAGF H=JKAKL=F;= AF L@= DGF?L=JE ;GEH9J9:D= LG L@=
@AF=K=HGHMD9LAGF$M9F?et al
 et al.

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/001/ +" 0$! .++ %(! (%6.
"%#
)9AFL@J=9LKLGS. crocodilurus AF2A=LF9EG9DEAFAF? =PHDGJ9LAGF ;DGK= LG L@=KH=;A=K
@9:AL9L  +H=FAF? G> L@= >GJ=KL OAL@ JG9<K LG >9;ADAL9L= ;G9DEAFAF? L@JGM?@GML L@= F9LMJ=
J=K=JN=K,J=K=JN=<S. crocodilurus AF9D;G@GDMK=<>GJLJ9<ALAGF9DE=<A;AF=AF-M9F?*AF@
,JGNAF;=,@GLGK)=JF9J<=K)N9F/;@AF?=F
0@= GJ<=J G> AFBMJA=K AF KH=;AE=FK <A>>=J=< 9EGF? L@= L@J== KAL=K 9F< O9K
@A?@=KLOAL@AFL@= GF?/GF'Q0@MGF?*.FMF>9NGMJ9:D=@9:AL9LKLJM;LMJ=L@=
G;;MJJ=F;=G>HJ=<9LGJKGJ;GEH=LALGJK9F<@ME9FAEH9;LKEA?@L:=HGL=FLA9DJ=9KGFK
>GJ@A?@=JJ9L=KG>NAGD9L=<KH=;AE=FKAFL@AKJ=K=JN=
"MJL@=JEGJ=GMJKLM<QJ=N=9D=<L@9LS. crocodilurus AKKLJGF?DQK=<=FL9JQ9KFG
EA?J9LAGF:=LO==F@9:AL9LKLJ=9EKAFKLJACAF?<AKL9F;=O9KHJGN=<OAL@AFL@J==Q=9JK
%FDGF?L=JENA=OL@=J=KLJA;L=<EA?J9LAGF9:ADALQEA?@LJ=<M;=L@=?=F=>DGO9F<L@MK
=F<9F?=JL@= ;GFLAFM9F;=G>L@=KH=;A=K0@==PLJ=E=DQKE9DDKM:HGHMD9LAGFKAR=KG>
9:GMLE9LMJ=AF<ANA<M9DKOAL@AF=9;@F9LMJ=J=K=JN=E9C=L@=KH=;A=KHJGF=LG>9DD
AFLG 9F =PLAF;LAGF NGJL=P #ADHAF  /GMDV  /LJGF? >DM;LM9LAGFK OAL@AF HGHM
D9LAGFKE9C=L@=E=KH=;A9DDQ HJGF= LG =PLAF;LAGF=N=FL@GM?@HGHMD9LAGFK?=F=J9DDQ
MF<=JDA= KGE= D=N=D G> >DM;LM9LAGFK =? BfJFKL9<  #J=F>=DD  .9FL9 et al.
%FL@AK;GFL=PLGMJKLM<QJ=N=9D=<L@9LL@=KM:HGHMD9LAGF>JGE09Q5=F0M*.
@9<EGJ=L@9F<GM:D=<>JGEAF;DM<AF?9EGJ=L@9F>GD<AF;J=9K=AFL@=
HJGHGJLAGFG>BMN=FAD=K0@AK@A?@AF;A<=F;=G>BMN=FAD=KO9KG:K=JN=<FGO@=J==DK=AF
2A=LF9E$GO=N=JL@=<MJ9LAGFG>KMJNAN9D9HH=9J=<KLJGF?DQJ=KLJA;L=<9KGFDQGF=G>
AF<ANA<M9DKE9JC=<AFO9KJ=;9HLMJ=<AF/AF;=S. crocodilurus J=9;@=K
K=PM9DE9LMJALQGFDQ9>L=JL@J==Q=9JKL@=KMJNAN9D<MJAF?L@AKH=JAG<AK;JM;A9D>GJL@=
E9AFL=F9F;=G>ALKHGHMD9LAGFK6@9F?5Met al
+*/!.20%+*)!/1.!/
Habitat protection: 9K=<GFL@=G:K=JN9LAGFG>N9JAGMKL@J=9LKLGL@=@9:AL9LG>
S. crocodilurus AF 2A=LF9E =? ;GFLAFMGMKDQ =PH9F<AF? ;G9DEAFAF? 9J=9 AF L@=
<AJ=;LAGF G> L@= @9:AL9L KLJ=9EK @9:AL9L >J9?E=FL9LAGF >JGE JG9<K E9<= >GJ ;G9D
=PHDGJ9LAGF 9F< DG??AF? ;GEH9FA=K >GJ=KL ;D=9J9F;= 9F< F9LMJ9D >GJ=KL >AJ=K O=
KLJGF?DQJ=;GEE=F<9HJGL=;LAGFKL9LMK=D=N9LAGFG>L@=F9LMJ=J=K=JN=KAF;DGK=;GDD9
:GJ9LAGFOAL@L@=9ML@GJALA=KG>L@=J=K=JN=KKE9FQJG;G<AD=(AR9J<HGHMD9LAGFK9J=
<AKLJA:ML=<GMLKA<=GJOAL@AFL@=:M>>=JJ=?AGFKG>L@=*.KN9F/;@AF?=Fet al
9F=PL=FKAGFG> L@= HJGL=;L=<9J=9F=LOGJCK@GMD<:=>MJL@=J ;GFKA<=J=<H9JL>JGE
L@=HJGL=;LAGFG>L@=E9;JG@9:AL9LO=J=;GEE=F<L@9L9LD=9KLL@=@9:AL9LKLJ=9EKF==<
@A?@=JHJGL=;LAGFLG=F9:D=L@=DGF?L=JEH=JKAKL=F;=G>L@=KH=;A=KF9?J==E=FLOAL@
L@=GH=J9LGJKG>DG;9D;G9DEAFAF?;GEH9FA=KAKF=;=KK9JQLGHJGL=;LL@=EAFAEME9J=9
J=IMAJ=<>GJL@=KMJNAN9DG>L@=HGHMD9LAGFO@A;@OGMD<:=>=9KA:D=9KL@=KH=;A=KAK
KLJGF?DQ K=<=FL9JQ 9F< J=KLJA;L=< LG >=O KH=;A>A; KLJ=9EK *AF? et al  N9F
/;@AF?=Fet al.G9<KO@A;@9J=AF;J=9KAF?DQ;J=9L=<L@JGM?@GML09Q5=F0M
9F< GF?/GF'Q0@MGF?*.KLG>9;ADAL9L=;G9DEAFAF?9F<LAE:=JDG??AF?0GJ<G>>
et al.pers. obs.K@GMD<:=<AJ=;L=<9JGMF<L@=@9:AL9LKLJ=9EK
Wildlife trade control: 0G;GFLJGDL@=LJ9<=9F=F@9F;=E=FLG>L@=;GFK=JN9LAGF
KL9LMKG>S. crocodilurus :QL@= 9KK=KKE=FL G> L@=KH=;A=K>GJL@=%1* .=< (AKL AK
J=;GEE=F<=<BMKL9K9FMH?J9<=G>L@=%0!/9HH=F<AP3=9DKGHJGHGK=LGAF;DM<=
S. crocodilurus AFL@=DAKLG>HJGL=;L=<KH=;A=KAF2A=LF9E%DD=?9D;GDD=;LAGFK>GJL@=H=L
LJ9<=K@GMD<:=;GFLJGDD=<:Q>GJ=KLJ9F?=JKL9LAGFKL@JGM?@H9LJGDK9LLGMJAKLA;KAL=KDAC=
09Q5=F 0M9F<5=F 0M*.KKS. crocodilurus AK 9@9:AL9LKH=;A9DAKL*AF?et al.
 N9F /;@AF?=F et al.  3M et al  GFDQ G;;MJJAF? 9DGF? KH=;A>A;
KLJ=9EKL@AKE=9KMJ= OGMD<:=>=9KA:D=9F<=>>=;LAN=HM:DA;9O9J=F=KK;9EH9A?F
 et al.

=?:JG;@MJ=HGKL=JKA?F:G9J< K@GMD<:=;GF<M;L=<>GJDG;9D;GEEMFALA=KAFKA<=
HJGL=;L=<9J=9K9F<OAL@AFL@=AJ:M>>=JRGF=K
Population restoration: "AJKLEGD=;MD9J 9F9DQKAKG> L@= =PL9FL KM:HGHMD9LAGFK
J=N=9D=<FGKA?FA>A;9FL?=F=LA;<A>>=J=F;=6A=?D=Jet al.$GO=N=J9:JG9<=J
?=F=LA; 9F9DQKAK LG =N9DM9L= L@= ;DGK=J L9PGFGEA; J=D9LAGFK@AHK G> L@= =PL9FL KM:
HGHMD9LAGFKAKJ=;GEE=F<=<9K<AK;J=H9F;A=KOGMD<@9N=9KLJGF?AEH9;LGFL@=JAKC
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... The Chinese crocodile lizard Shinisaurus crocodilurus is a semi-aquatic, viviparous, diurnal species of lizard that specialises in occupying fresh water and evergreen broadleaf forests [12,13]. They are habitat specialists that exhibit a preference for small, remote streams along mountain ridges, within undisturbed, tropical forest [12,14,15]. This species is currently assessed as endangered [16] and is the only living species in the family Shinisauridae. ...
... This evolutionary distinctiveness coupled with a very restricted range, limited to riparian habitats within Southern China and Northern Vietnam, renders this species particularly at risk. Both in situ and ex situ conservation and efforts to expand the current knowledge of the natural history of this species are of high importance for the continued survival of the species [12,14,15,17]. ...
... However, wild habitat preferences in S. c. vietnamensis showed variation between juveniles and adults; juveniles typically favour low lying ferns, shrubs, and canes with a median height of ≈63.5 cm above water level, while adults perch within densely vegetated branches with a median height of ≈119 cm above water level. Lizards are rarely observed on the forest floor, but utilise refuges such as tree holes, rock shelters, densely vegetated perches, and utilise vertical over horizontal space [15,17]. Wild observations of adult S. c. vietnamensis found that animals are inactive for large proportions of the day; activity begins at sunrise, with peak activity during the morning and noon. ...
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This study compared the resource use of juvenile zoo-living Chinese crocodile lizards, Shinisaurus crocodilurus crocodilurus across three observation windows, spanning nine months, accounting for time of day and lizard age, and under consistent environmental conditions. Lizards showed a significant difference in proportionate resource use, quantified using a modified spread of participation indices between the second and final sampling period, such that with increasing age, resources were more equally utilised. The time of day did not have a significant effect on resource use. Lizards in this study significantly increased their use of water bodies and branches outside the bask zone and decreased their use of the land areas within the bask zones over time. Resource use data suggests the importance of providing enclosures which cater to ontogenetic shifts in captive individuals or within mixed age groupings.
... Population analyses first were conducted for diurnal primates in the karst forests of Phong Nha -Ke Bang (Haus et al. 2009). Ecological studies and population analyses , van Schingen et al. 2014b, 2015 finally were together with trade analyses , Aulyia et al. 2016, important prerequisites to get Shinisaurus crocodilurus, Goniurosaurus catbaensis and Cnemaspis psychedelica being included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species , and most recently, the inclusion of Shinisaurus crocodilurus and Cnemaspis psychedelica on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). ...
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This review summarizes two decades of herpetodiversity research and conservation projects within a German-Vietnamese long-term cooperation in Vietnam and Laos. My herpetological research activities in Vietnam began in central Vietnam's Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces, subsequently extending to the North and later also to the South of the country and to Laos. Besides diverse new records, herpetofaunal lists, redescriptions, reviews, larval and development descriptions, our team so far has described 57 amphibian and reptile taxa from Vietnam and in addition 19 herpetofaunal representatives from Laos. The application of Species Distribution Models led to the discovery of new populations of the rare Tylototriton vietnamensis and Shinisaurus crocodilurus vietnamensis in northern Vietnam. Our ecological research, population and trade analyses were prerequisites for the inclusion of S. crocodilurus, Goniurosaurus catbaensis and Cnemaspis psychedelica in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and the inclusion of S. crocodilurus and C. psychedelica on CITES Appendix I. Within the framework of student courses held both in Germany and Vietnam, young academics are trained and in part later on supervised thus promoting herpetological, conservation based research in Vietnam. Furthermore, the Cologne Zoo team has helped to build up a wildlife rescue station at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, to develop the Amphibian Station Hanoi and the Me Linh Station for Biodiversity. At the latter station also an extensive environmental education programme has been developed together with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Vietnam Office. The Cologne Zoo team further has helped to build up conservation breeding facilities for S. crocodilurus vietnamensis and C. psychedelica in Vietnam and conducted several amphibian and reptile husbandry training courses in stations, institutions and zoos both in the North and the South of Vietnam.
... A fi rst niche model approach predicted that the overall suitable habitats of S. crocodilurus are rare, fragmented, and poorly covered with protected areas (van Schingen et al., 2014a). Species distribution models (SDMs) represent an increasingly applied tool to predict the potential distribution and to identify suitable habitats of species (e.g., Rödder & Schulte, 2010). However, these models are principally theoretical and have been rarely proven valid in the fi eld. ...
... The crocodile lizard was first described in 1930 and is considered a primitive squamate species based on its morphological characteristics (Zhang 2002), yet we still know little about its evolutionary history. Currently, habitat destruction and illegal poaching have brought the crocodile lizard to the brink of extinction (van Schingen et al. 2014). The remaining populations are restricted to fragmented areas in southern China and northern Vietnam. ...
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The purging of deleterious alleles has been hypothesized to mitigate inbreeding depression, but its effectiveness in endangered species remains debatable. To understand how deleterious alleles are purged during population contractions, we analyzed genomes of the endangered Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus), which is the only surviving species of its family and currently isolated into small populations. Population genomic analyses revealed four genetically distinct conservation units and sharp declines in both effective population size and genetic diversity. By comparing the relative genetic load across populations and conducting genomic simulations, we discovered that seriously deleterious alleles were effectively purged during population contractions in this relict species, although inbreeding generally enhanced the genetic burden. However, despite with the initial purging, our simulations also predicted that seriously deleterious alleles will gradually accumulate under prolonged bottlenecking. Therefore, we emphasize the importance of maintaining a minimum population capacity and increasing the functional genetic diversity in conservation efforts to preserve populations of the crocodile lizard and other endangered species.
... Previous observations have already shown the degradation and fragmentation of habitats in the Yen Tu Mountain Range caused by direct anthropogenic threats, namely deforestation as a consequence of coal mining, timber logging and tourism development, and waste deposition (van Schingen et al. 2014, 2015. Habitat fragmentation likely generates potential barriers that prevent genetic exchange through dispersal between G. lichtenfelderi populations. ...
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Climate change has potential effects on global biodiversity by shifting the optimal distribution of terrestrial organisms, particularly species with narrow distributions. Goniurosaurus lichtenfelderi, a forest-dwelling lizard, is found on both the islands and mainland of northern Vietnam and southern China. The species is categorized as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List and was recently listed in CITES Appendix II and the Vietnam Government’s Decree 06 in 2019 due to severe anthropogenic impacts on its populations. In this study, we employ Maxent species distribution modeling with climatic and vegetation cover data to identify the potential distribution of G. lichtenfelderi. We also used this approach to assess future climate impacts on the potential distribution under different climate change scenarios. Our model predicts that the potential distribution of G. lichtenfelderi will shrink significantly under future scenarios and even vanish in the entire study area under novel environmental conditions of the BCC-CSM 1-1 – RCP 8.5 scenario by the 2070s. Overall, the current potential distribution is expected to shift towards higher latitudes within the next decades. The forecasted maps provide useful guidelines to implement conservation strategies to mitigate synergistic impacts from climate change and other negative anthropogenic activities. In the context of the potentially severe impacts, the border areas between China and Vietnam, Yen Tu Mountain Range, Bai Tu Long National Park, and their surroundings should be considered core refugia for the species, where conservation measures need to be prioritized in the future.
... The latest integrative taxonomic study revealed Vietnamese representatives to be morphologically, ecologically, and genetically distinct from Chinese populations (van Schingen et al., 2016b). As a consequence, the importance of establishing separate conservation breeding programs for two different taxa from Vietnam and China to maintain their genetic integrity within ex situ facilities has been highlighted, in particular for the newly described subspecies from Vietnam (Shinisaurus crocodilurus vietnamensis) (see also Ziegler et al., 2016) due to its extremely low population estimates (van Schingen et al., 2014;2016a). ...
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The endangered crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus) is a reptile species regularly kept in zoos and private collections across Europe, Japan, the United States and other countries. This species had long been thought to represent a single conservation unit, but a recent study show that the population from Vietnam is morphologically, ecologically and genetically distinct from several populations from China. As such, the populations should be managed separately to avoid hybridization with other independently evolving natural populations. Until now, the identification of different populations remains challenging because of their subtle morphological differences. In this study, we undertook a genetic screening of crocodile lizard individuals from zoos and private holdings in Europe using mitochondrial DNA sequences. Our results based on phylogenetic and network analyses strongly support four different mitochondrial clades, one from Vietnam and three from China. Most screened individuals belonged to one mitochondrial clade from China, while a few others clustered in the Vietnamese clade. The low number of specimens from the Vietnamese population found in captivity might be explained by specimens from Vietnam arriving only recently in Europe through the international pet trade, or by the extremely small size of the Vietnamese population. Interestingly, our analyses identified a new mitochondrial clade of the crocodile lizard, which we suggest originates from China. We recommend that further investigation should be conducted to better understand the distinctiveness of the three lineages in China for future conservation actions. Our study illustrates the potential of molecular data for assigning crocodile lizards to distinct genetic clades. However, to determine genetic purity of individuals in captivity, other nuclear markers, such as microsatellites, should be employed.
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The theme of this book is the distribution of the abundance of organisms in space and time. Its core lies in how local births and deaths are tied to emigration and immigration processes, and how environmental variability at different scales affects population dynamics with stochastic processes and spatial structure. The book shows how elementary analytical tools can be used to understand population fluctuations, synchrony, processes underlying range distributions and community structure and species coexistence, as well as how spatial population dynamics models can be used to understand life history evolution and aspects of evolutionary game theory