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Ecological Notes on the Three-Banded Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon trinotaterra in Southern Vietnam



Since the Three-banded Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon trinotaterra was first described in 1999, little information on its natural history has appeared in the literature. Observations of the species in Cat Tien National Park in southern Vietnam are presented, including the use of buildings for foraging, an activity not previously recorded for this species.
GECKO Ptychozoon trinotaterra IN SOUTHERN VIETNAM
James A. Fitzsimons1,2
Submitted April 24, 2016
Since the Three-banded Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon trinotaterra was first described in 1999, little information
on its natural history has appeared in the literature. Observations of the species in Cat Tien National Park in south-
ern Vietnam are presented, including the use of buildings for foraging, an activity not previously recorded for this
Keywords: Ptychozoon trinotaterra; rainforest; man-made structures; foraging; parachute geckos.
In a recent review of the parachute geckos Ptycho-
zoon, Brown et al. (2012) noted that most species in this
small genus are rarely encountered by biologists and, as a
consequence, are poorly represented in natural history
collections. New species continue to be discovered
(Brown et al., 2012, Sumontha et al., 2012, Wang et al.,
The Three-banded Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon tri-
notaterra was first described by Brown (1999) but since
then little has appeared in the literature. Kunya et al.
(2011) recently ‘rediscovered’the apparently rare species
in Thailand and provided brief details on the natural his-
tory on the 16 individuals they found there, as did Hart-
mann et al. (2014) for a single specimen they found in
Cambodia. Here I present observations of this species in
On 22 October 2005 at 19:20, I observed,
photographed and videoed a single P. trinotaterra at Cat
Tien National Park, Dong Nai Province, Vietnam
(11°25’23’’ N 107°25’43’’ E, 120 m a.s.l.) (Figs. 1 and
2). The gecko was on an outside wall and then adjoining
ceiling (~2.5–4mhigh) of the park headquarters build-
ing, which was lit (Fig. 1). The gecko did not attempt to
flee despite the observer approaching to within 1 m, al-
though the photographic flash did cause it to move to cor-
ner of the wall. The individual gecko had an autonomized
its tail. Although the gecko was presumed to be hunting
[there were small insects (mosquitos/flies, Order Dipte-
ra; moths, Order Lepidoptera) present on the wall, at-
tracted by the light], no active predation attempts were
observed. House Gecko Hemidactylus frenatus were also
foraging on the same wall.
The park headquarters is a one of a series of buildings
on edge of the national park and bordering the river Sông
`ng Nai. Vegetation in the national park surrounding
this site is semi-evergreen rainforest and bamboo (see
also Blanc et al., 2000) although the buildings are set
amongst a grassed and landscaped area with rainforest
trees. On the other side of the river is agricultural land.
1026-2296/2017/2404-0327 © 2017 Folium Publishing Company
Russian Journal of Herpetology Vol. 24, No. 4, 2017, pp. 327 – 328
1The Nature Conservancy, Suite 2-01, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton
VIC 3053, Australia; e-mail
2School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221
Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125, Australia.
Fig. 1. Three-banded Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon trinotaterra on
wall of park office, Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam.
Ptychozoon trinotaterra has previously been re-
corded from Cat Tien National Park by Nguyen and Ho
(2002), Nguyen et al. (2009) and Das (2010), although
Kunya et al. (2011) suggests this was “without any pho-
tograph or reference to voucher material.” Nonetheless
Kunya et al. (2011) also states the species is easily recog-
nizable from its congeners, by its three dark transverse
bands in the axilla-groin region, versus four in all remain-
ing species but the Philippine Ptychozoon intermedium
(otherwise clearly distinguishable by several scalation
Brown (1999) originally found Ptychozoon trinota-
terra on trees in intact climax rain forest and slightly dis-
turbed clearings or secondary forest adjacent to intact
rainforest in Vietnam and Thailand. Das (2010, p. 225),
apparently referred to Brown to also state the primary
habitat of this species was “dry evergreen and lowland
dipterocarp forest at elevations of up to 900 m a.s.l. [and
that it was] nocturnal and arboreal, known from tree
trunks.” Kunya et al. (2011) recently found the species in
older secondary forest, on trees and on lightpoles in Thai-
land, while Hartmann et al. (2014) found a single speci-
men in old secondary semi-evergreen forest in Cambodia.
Brown (1999) suggests, that based on limited pub-
lished information on the genus, most of the Ptychozoon
are canopy obligates and seldom encountered at the
lower vegetation strata. However, of the five Ptychozoon
in south-east Asia documented by Das (2010, pp. 224
225), all except P. trinotaterra were recorded as occur-
ring on man-made structures (P. horsfieldii: “frequents
man-made structures”; P. kuhli: “occasionally wooden
structures in the vicinity of forests and houses”; P. lino-
tum: “Occasionally enters human dwellings”; P. rhaco-
phorus: “observed on the walls of buildings and the
trunks of large trees”). The observation from Cat Tien
National Park confirms P. trinotaterra can also utilize
walls of buildings.
Acknowledgments. Thanks to Olivier Pauwels for con-
firming the identity of the species and P. Giessler for sharing
their observations of this species.
Blanc L., Maury-Lechon G., and Pascal J.-P. (2000), “Struc-
ture, floristic composition and natural regeneration in the
forests of Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam: An analysis of
the successional trends,” J. Biogeogr.,27, 141 – 157.
Brown R. F. (1999), “New species of Parachute Gecko (Squa-
mata: Gekkonidae: genus Ptychozoon) from northeastern
Thailand and central Vietnam,” Copeia,1999, 990 – 1001.
Brown R. M., Siler C. D. Grismer L. L., Das I., and
McGuire J. A. (2012), “Phylogeny and cryptic diversifica-
tion in Southeast Asian flying geckos,” Mol. Phylogen.
Evol.,65, 351 – 361.
Das I. (2010), A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia:
Malaysia,Singapore,Sumatra,Borneo,Java,Bali, New
Holland, London.
Hartmann T., Bett, S., De Greef S., and Ihlow F. (2014),
“First record of the rare parachute gecko Ptychozoon
trinotaterra Brown, 1999 from Cambodia,” Cambod. J.
Nat. Hist.,2014,12–13.
Kunya K., Pauwels O. S. G., Sairum P., and Taokratok A.
(2011), “Reptilia, Gekkonidae, Ptychozoon trinotaterra:re
discovery in Thailand,” Check List,7, 820 – 822.
Nguyen V. S. and Ho T. C. (2002), “Species composition of
the herpetofauna recorded in Cat Tien National Park,” J.
Biol.,24, 2 – 10. [In Vietnamese]
Nguyen V. S., Ho T. C., and Nguyen T. Q. (2009), Herpeto-
fauna of Vietnam, Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main.
Sumontha M., Pauwels O. S. G., Kunya K., Limlikhitak-
sorn C., Ruksue S., Taokratok A., Ansermet M., and
Chanhome L. (2012), “A new species of Parachute Gecko
(Squamata: Gekkonidae: genus Ptychozoon) from Kaeng
Krachan National Park, western Thailand,” Zootaxa,3513,
68 – 78.
Ying-Yong Wang, Jian Wang, and Zu-Yao Liu (2016), “De-
scription of a new species of the genus Ptychozoon (Squa-
mata: Gekkonidae), representing a new national record of
this genus from southern Yunnan Province, China,” Zoo-
taxa,4084, 406 – 420.
328 James A. Fitzsimons
Fig. 2. Three-banded Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon trinotaterra on
wall of park office, Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam.
... Given that new species of Ptychozoon are being discovered as a result of field work in remote areas (Sumontha et al. 2012;Wang et al. 2016;Grismer et al. 2018a) and their phylogeny is composed of diagnosable species separated by long branches with divergences of 4.1-15.5% within the lionotum group and up to 17.5% among all Ptychozoon, suggests that it is very likely that more species have yet to be discovered. Given their ability to substrate match, it is not surprising that many populations are known from only a few specimens and many of these were seen only because they were low on the trunks of trees in cleared, open areas or on man-made structures (Brown et al. 1997;Brown 1999;Das & Vijayakumar 2009;Grismer 2011a;Kunya et al. 2011;Sumontha et al. 2012;Herr & Lee 2016;Wang et al. 2016;Fitzsimons 2017;Grismer et al. 2018a). Continued field work and tissue sampling throughout Indochina should recover additional species and fill in distribution gaps within known species and illuminate clearer biogeographic patterns. ...
An integrative taxonomic analysis of the Ptychozoon lionotum group across its range in Indochina and Sundaland recovers P. lionotum sensu lato Annandale, 1905 as paraphyletic with respect to P. popaense Grismer, Wood, Thura, Grismer, Brown, & Stuart, 2018a and composed of four allopatric, genetically divergent, ND2 mitochondrial lineages. Multivariate and univariate analyses of continuous and discrete morphological and color pattern characters statistically and discretely diagnose each lineage from one another and together, with maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference analyses, provide the foundation for the recognition of each lineage as a new species—hypotheses corroborated with a Generalized Mixed Yule Coalescent species delimitation analysis. Ptychozoon cicakterbang sp. nov. ranges throughout Peninsular Malaysia to Pulau Natuna Besar, Indonesia; P. kabkaebin sp. nov. is endemic to northern and central Laos; and P. tokehos sp. nov. ranges from southern Thailand south of the Isthmus of Kra northward to Chiang Mai, fringing the Chao Phraya Basin and ranging southward through Cambodia to southern Vietnam. Ptychozoon lionotum sensu stricto ranges from northwestern Laos through southern Myanmar to eastern India. The phylogeographic structure within each species varies considerably with P. lionotum s.s. showing no genetic divergence across its 1,100 km range compared to P. cicakterbang sp. nov. showing upwards of 8.2% sequence divergence between syntopic individuals. Significant phylogeographic structure exists within P. tokehos sp. nov. and increased sampling throughout Thailand may require additional taxonomic changes within this species.
... This is done within this paper. Literature relevant to the new taxonomic arrangement within this paper, including an outline of the taxonomy and nomenclature of relevant species to date, molecular and morphological analysis of each species-level taxon comes from the following publications, Annandale (1905aAnnandale ( , 1905b, Auliya (2006), Boistel et al. (2011), Boulenger (1885, 1890, Brown (1999), Brown et al. (1997Brown et al. ( , 2012Brown et al. ( , 2013, Chan-ard et al. (1999Chan-ard et al. ( , 2015, Cox et al. (1998), Creveldt (1809), Cuvier (1831), Das (2004), Das and Vijayakumar (2009), De Lisle et al. (2013), de Rooij (1915, Duméril and Bibron (1836), Fitzsimons (2017), Fitzinger (1843, Goldberg and Grismer (2016), Gray (1827Gray ( , 1845, Grismer (2011aGrismer ( , 2011b, Grismer et al. (2002), Grossmann (2009), Günther (1864, Hartmann et al. (2014), Klaver (2007), Koch (2002), Kopstein (1938), Law and Law (2016), Lönnberg (1899), Manthey (1982aManthey ( , 1982b, Manthey and Grossmann (1997), Mertens and Senfft (1929), Min and Das (2012), Murthy (2010), Onn et al. (2010), Pawar and Bismas (2001), Pyron et al. (2013), Ride et al. (1999), Rösler (1995), Sang et al. (2009), Smith (1935, Stejneger (1902), Sumontha (1963), Sumontha et al. (2012), Sy et al. (2014), Taylor (1915Taylor ( , 1922Taylor ( , 1963, Teynié et al. (2010), Tweedie (1954), Venugopal (2010), Wang et al. (2016), Wood et al. (2004) and sources cited therein. In terms of the descriptions below, the following should be noted. ...
ABSTRACT The genus Ptychozoon Kuhl and Van Hasselt, 1822 includes the so-called flying or gliding geckos of southeast Asia. Molecular studies published over the past decade have indicated that the genus as currently understood includes forms of significant divergence and greater species diversity than the current taxonomy indicates (Brown et al. 2012, Pyron et al. 2013). To correct the anomaly and in accordance with the rules of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature the most morphologically divergent species are herein placed in two new genera. Ten new species within Ptychozoon sensu lato are also formally named for the first time. Keywords: Reptile; Taxonomy; Nomenclature; Ptychozoon; Pteropleura; kuhli; neotype; rhacophorus; lionotum; horsfieldii; New genus; Alexteescolotes; Cliveevattcolotes; new species; teesi; steveteesi; cliveevatti; sumatraensis; malayaensis; johorensis; engannoensis; sulawesiensis; borneoensis; wallaceaensis. Australasian Journal of Herpetology 38:19-31.
Full-text available
A new species of the Parachute Gecko, Ptychozoon bannaense sp. nov., is described on the basis of two specimens from Xishuangbanna, Yunnan Province, China. The new species can be distinguished from eight known congeners by the following combination of morphological characters: body size moderate, SVL 83.2-87.5 mm; rostral with a short dorsomedian groove; dorsal head and body covered with granular scales without enlarged tubercles, but male with several enlarged tubercles on the occipital region; two supranasals separated from each other by a large internasal; the absence of a predigital notch in the preantebrachial cutaneous flap; male possesses 17 preanofemoral pores in a continuous scale row; tail tubercle absent, 24 pairs of lateral denticulate cutaneous lobes of the tail; width of tail and caudal lobes progressively decreasing posteriorly; the terminal caudal flap short, semicircle, not expanded; lack of lobe fusion at the terminal caudal flap border; the presence of four dark dorsal bands between fore-and hind limbs insertions, the third and fourth dorsal bands fused into a X-shaped mark. The new species is also divergent from known taxa in mitochondrial gene sequences, supporting its recognition based on morphological characters. The discovery and description of Ptychozoon bannaense brings the total number of Ptychozoon to nine, and represents the first record of the genus Ptychozoon in China.
Full-text available
I describe a new species of parachute gecko from localities in northeastern Thailand and the central highlands of Vietnam. The new species is known from intact climax rain forest and slightly disturbed clearings or secondary forest adjacent to intact rain forest. The new species differs from congeners by the combination of three (vs four) transverse bands in the axilla-groin region, 19-21 preanofemoral pore-bearing scales in a continuous series, 15-16 cutaneous denticulate lobes of the tail, lateral orientation of the caudal lobes, minimal reduction in total width of distal portions of the tail, absence of substantive lateral expansion of the straight-edged tail terminus beyond the nearest denticulate caudal lobe, minimal lobe fusion at the proximal border of the tail terminus, continuation of caudal tubercles distally on to the dorsal surface of tail terminus, absence of a predigital notch in the preantebrachial cutaneous expansion, and the presence (in a Thai specimen) of a single midvertebral row of flat dorsal tubercles (vertebral tubercle series absent in Vietnamese specimens).
Full-text available
A new species of Parachute Gecko, Ptychozoon kaengkrachanense sp. nov., is described from montane evergreen forest in Kaeng Krachan National Park, western Thailand. It differs from all known Ptychozoon species by having three dark dorsal chevrons between limb insertions, homogeneous dorsal scalation without enlarged scales, original tail without long terminal flap, supranasals widely in contact, a continuous series of 14-19 enlarged precloacofemoral scales, bearing 13-17 pores in males, the absence of a predigital notch in the preantebrachial cutaneous expansion and the presence of cutaneous expansions on sides of head. It is the eighth species described in the genus and the only species of Ptychozoon endemic to Thailand.
Full-text available
The Parachute Gecko Ptychozoon trinotaterra, known so far only by its type series which includes specimens from two geographically distant localities in northeastern Thailand and central Vietnam, has been rediscovered in Thailand, in Ubon Ratchathani Zoo compound. The morphological observations made on the new specimens confirm that the Vietnamese and the Thai populations are conspecific.
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The forests in Cat Tien National Park, appear as a mosaic of different communities, distinct from each other with respect to their floristic and structural parameters. The objectives of this study are (1) to characterize the different formations occurring in the lowland part and (2) to identify the main successional trends in the area. Understanding forest succession is important for silviculture and restoration of forests and land rehabilitation, as adequate information on the ecological role of local species in the functioning of the forests is not available in Vietnam. Five plots (1 ha each) were established in the lowland part of Cat Tien National Park, where all the trees ≥ 10 cm d.b.h. (diameter at breast height) were located, measured and identified. A systematic sampling was made to assess the regeneration. Three plots (A, C and D) can be considered as secondary forests on the basis of their structural parameters. Plots A and C are dominated by Lagerstrmia calyculata and plot D by Dipterocarpus alatus. The other two plots can be regarded as mature forests. Plot B corresponds to a semideciduous formation dominated by Lagerstrmia calyculata and Fabaceae species, and plot E to an evergreen one dominated by dipterocarp species. The floristic composition of plots A and C will change in the future because dominant canopy species are rare or absent in regeneration. A correspondence analysis performed on the number of trees per species shows two kinds of successional trends: one from A to B on shallow and drier soils, and another from C to E on deeper and wetter soils.
Species composition of the herpetofauna recorded in Cat Tien National Park
  • V S Nguyen
  • T C Ho
Nguyen V. S. and Ho T. C. (2002), "Species composition of the herpetofauna recorded in Cat Tien National Park," J. Biol., 24, 2 -10. [In Vietnamese]
Herpetofauna of Vietnam, Edition Chimaira
  • V S Nguyen
  • T C Ho
  • T Q Nguyen
Nguyen V. S., Ho T. C., and Nguyen T. Q. (2009), Herpetofauna of Vietnam, Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main.