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Range extension of the Brazilian dwarf boa Tropidophis paucisquamis (Müller, 1901) (Serpentes, Tropidophiidae) and first record in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

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Tropidophis paucisquamis is a rare small-sized snake, endemic to the Atlantic Forest and strongly associated with coastal mountain ranges with elevations above 500 m a.s.l. In this work, we provide the first record of this species in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, being the most continental record for the species and extending its distribution approximately 180 km from the closest known localities, and 465 km from its type locality. This finding fills a distribution gap between the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo, Brazil, and expands our understanding about T. paucisquamis geographic distribution.
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Oecologia Australis
23(2):375-380, 2019
https://doi.org/10.4257/oeco.2019.2302.15
RANGE EXTENSION OF THE BRAZILIAN DWARF BOA Tropidophis
paucisquamis (MÜLLER, 1901) (SERPENTES, TROPIDOPHIIDAE) AND FIRST
RECORD IN THE STATE OF MINAS GERAIS, BRAZIL
Leandro de Avelar Oliveira1*, Pedro Carvalho Rocha1,2, Jonas Ferrari Morais1,2 & Renato
Neves Feio1,2
1 Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Museu de Zoologia João Moojen, Laboratório de
Herpetologia, Vila Gianetti, 32, CEP 36570-900, Viçosa, MG, Brazil.
2 Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Departamento de Biologia Animal, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal,
Museu de Zoologia João Moojen, Laboratório de Herpetologia, Vila Gianetti, 32, CEP 36570-900, Viçosa, MG, Brazil.
E-mails: avelarleandrocaps@gmail.com (*corresponding author); p.rocha1990@gmail.com; morais.jonasf@gmail.com;
rfeio@ufv.br
Abstract: Tropidophis paucisquamis is a rare small-sized snake, endemic to the Atlantic Forest and strongly
associated with coastal mountain ranges with elevations above 500 m a.s.l. In this work, we provide the first
record of this species in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, being the most continental record for the species
and extending its distribution approximately 180 km from the closest known localities, and 465 km from
its type locality. This finding fills a distribution gap between the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo,
Brazil, and expands our understanding about T. paucisquamis geographic distribution.
Keywords: Atlantic Forest; defensive behavior; Serra do Brigadeiro; snake; Squamata.
The Brazilian dwarf boa, Tropidophis paucisquamis
(Müller, 1901) is a rare Tropidophiidae,
characterized by aglyphous dentition, rows of
dark spots around their bodies and diminutive
size, about 150 mm (Hedges 2002, Freitas 2003,
Barbo et al. 2011, Curcio et al. 2012). The species
is endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (sensu
IBGE & MMA 2004) and strongly associated with
coastal mountain ranges with elevation above 500
m a.s.l. (Curcio et al. 2012). Brazilian dwarf boas
often present arboreal habits and nocturnal activity
(Barbo et al. 2011). So far, this species has been
known from three mountain complexes restricted
to the states of Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São
Paulo and Paraná, in southeastern and southern
Brazil: 1) Serra do Mar; 2) Serra da Mantiqueira;
and 3) Planalto Paulistano-Paranaense (Capela
et al. 2017). Herein, we report a new locality for T.
paucisquamis, the first in the state of Minas Gerais
and the most continental record for the species,
in an area belonging to Serra da Mantiqueira
mountain range.
On 06 November 2017 (air tem perature 16°C), we
found a speci men of T. paucisquamis on the grou nd,
amongst the marginal vegetation of a temporary
pond commonly known as Lagoa das Bromélias,
at Parque Estadual da Serra do Brigadeiro (Serra
do Brigadeiro State Park; PESB), municipality of
Ervália, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil (Figure 1;
20°53’30” S, 42°31’41” W, datum WGS84; 1227 m
a.s.l.). The individual was a male (Figure 2a), 296
mm snout-vent length, 45 mm caudal length, 168
Oecol. Aust. 23(2):375-380, 2019
376 | Range extension of Tropidophis paucisquamis
ventral scales, 23 dorsal scales at midbody, and
lacking interparietal scales, characters within the
know range of T. paucisquamis (Curcio et al. 2012).
Whilst the specimen was manipulated
and photographed, it displayed the defensive
behaviors of coiling the body and hiding the head
(Figure 2b), well reported for the species (e.g.,
Antunes & Haddad 2009, Barbo et al. 2011, Tanaka
et al. 2018). The specimen was euthanized with an
injection of 10% lidocaine, fixed in 10% formalin,
preserved in 70% ethanol and is currently housed
at the herpetological collection of the Museu de
Zoologia João Moojen, Universidade Federal de
Viçosa, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil (voucher
MZUFV 2495). In addition, tissue samples were
collected and will be integrated into the tissue
collection of Universidade Federa l do Mato Grosso
do Sul.
To provide an updated distribution map for
T. paucisquamis, we made a search of records
of this species in the scientific literature,
using the terms “Tropidophis paucisquamis”,
distribution” and “range extension” as keywords
in the electronic databases Google Schoolar and
SciELO. Additionally, we searched for records in
all volumes of the journal Herpetological Review,
which t raditiona lly publishes d istribution re cords.
Searches were made between April and May 2018.
From the papers found, eight presented
geographical coordinates and three presented
distribution maps of the species, which were
used as references to generate the map of this
work (Amaral 1930, Carvalho 1951, Levandeira-
Gonçalves et al. 2007, Forlani et al. 2010, Salles
& Silva-Soares 2010, Curcio et al. 2012, Capela et
al. 2017, Tanaka et al. 2018). During this search,
Figure 1. Previously known locality records and the new record of Tropidophis paucisquamis (Serpentes,
Tropidophiidae). Inset map: Brazil, detailing the area of the main map. ES = Espírito Santo; MG = Minas
Gerais; PR = Paraná; RJ = Rio de Janeiro; SP = São Paulo. See Table 1 for coordinates and record references.
Oliveira et al. | 377
Oecol. Aust. 23(2): 375-380, 2019
Table 1. Localities and coordinates from this study and the literature review of Tropidophis paucisquamis
(Serpentes, Tropidophiidae) occurrence in Brazil.
State Municipality Locality Latitude Longitude Reference
Minas Gerais Ervália Parque Estadual Serra
do Brigadeiro* -20.8868 -42.5243 This study
Espírito Santo Araguaia - -20.50 -40.78 Curcio et al.
(2012)
Espírito Santo Santa Teresa - -19.93 -40.60 Curcio et al.
(2012)
Espírito Santo Santa Teresa Reserva Biológica
Augusto Ruschi -19.836 -40.540 Curcio et al.
(2012)
Rio de Janeiro Angra dos Reis Floresta -23.006 -44.318 Carvalho
(1951)
Rio de Janeiro Barra Mansa Cotiara -22.566 -44.200 Curcio et al.
(2012)
Rio de Janeiro Duque de Caxias --22.78 -43.31 Salles & Silva-
Soares (2010)
Table 1. Continued on next page...
Figure 2. (a) Individual of Tropidophis paucisquamis (Serpentes, Tropidophiidae) found at Parque Estadual
da Serra do Brigadeiro, municipality of Ervália, state of Minas Gerais, southeastern Brazil. (b) Same
individual exhibiting defensive behaviour of head hiding. Photos by Leandro de Avelar Oliveira.
we found some incoherencies among provided
coordinates and their respective localities (e.g.,
Curcio et al. 2012: provided coordinates that
fall into a neighbor municipality instead of the
one mentioned in the text). In such cases, we
updated the coordinates using the centroid of the
municipality as a proxy for the species record.
When the authors provided specific localities for
a record, such as protected areas, we used the
coordinates of such specific places instead of the
centroid of the municipality (Figure 1; Table 1).
Our record extends the distribution of T.
paucisquamis about 465 km from its type locality
(municipality of Salesópolis, state of São Paulo),
and is the westernmost locality of occurrence
for this species, approximately 176 km NE of
municipality of Teresópolis (state of Rio de Janeiro)
and 180 km SW of Araguaia (state of Espírito Santo),
Oecol. Aust. 23(2):375-380, 2019
378 | Range extension of Tropidophis paucisquamis
Rio de Janeiro Teresópolis Parque Nacional Serra
dos Órgãos -22.433 -42.983
Levandeira-
Gonçalves et al.
(2007)
Rio de Janeiro Teresópolis --22.41 -42.96 Curcio et al.
(2012)
Rio de Janeiro Teresópolis Alto do Soberbo -22.454 -42.989 Curcio et al.
(2012)
Rio de Janeiro Teresópolis Represa Guinle -22.454 -42.980 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Apiaí --24.50 -48.84 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Barueri --23.51 -46.88 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Biritiba Mirim --23.57 -46.03 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Juquitiba --23.93 -47.06 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Salesópolis Estação Biológica de
Boracéia -23.65 -45.9 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Santo Amaro Serra de Paranapiacaba -23.710 -46.768 Amaral (1930)
São Paulo Santo André Estação Ferroviária
Campo Grande -23.759 -46.374 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Santo Antônio do
Pinhal --22.82 -45.66 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Santo Antônio do
Pinhal
Estação Ferroviária
Eugênio Lefévre -22.825 -45.629 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo São Miguel Arcanjo Parque Estadual Carlos
Botelho -23.878 -47.997 Forlani et al.
(2010)
São Paulo São Miguel Arcanjo Parque Estadual Carlos
Botelho -24.063 -47.995 Forlani et al.
(2010)
São Paulo São Paulo --23.56 -46.62 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Tapiraí --23.96 -47.50 Curcio et al.
(2012)
São Paulo Ubatuba Projeto Dacnis
Private Reserve -23.4573 -45.1462 Tanaka et al.
(2018)
Paraná Campina Grande do
Sul Capivari River -24.989 -48.593 Capela et al.
(2017)
Table 1. ...Continued
State Municipality Locality Latitude Longitude Reference
Oliveira et al. | 379
Oecol. Aust. 23(2): 375-380, 2019
the closest known localities. In addition, the new
record fills a distributional gap of T. paucisquamis
in southeastern Brazil, and reinforces the
hypothesis that the Serra da Mantiqueira may
represent the western border of its geographic
range (Curcio et al. 2012). Lastly, it reveals the
presence of T. paucisquamis at a protected area in
Minas Gerais, the Serra do Brigadeiro State Park,
considered a priority area for the conservation of
the herpetofauna of Minas Gerais (Drummond
et al. 2005). The occurrence of T. paucisquamis at
PESB increases the park’s known reptile richness
(Moura et al. 2012) to 41 species.
So far, we found records of this species in 26
localities and about 50 specimens are deposited
in scientific collections (e.g., Curcio et al. 2012,
Capela et al. 2017, Tanaka et al. 2018). Although our
understanding of the geographic distribution of T.
paucisquamis has increased, it is pivotal that more
studies are conducted in order to understand more
about the biology and natural history of this rare
species. Despite that the Atlantic Forest is the most
studied Brazilian biome (Oliveira et al. 2016), with
many scientific collections, it still lacks information
to provide a better understanding of the patterns
of diversity and distribution of many reptile
species (Bérnils et al. 2009). This lack of data and
herpetofaunistic inventories may be responsible for
the previous distribution pattern observed for this
snake, especially in the state of Minas Gerais when
compared to the states of São Paulo and Rio de
Janeiro, which have large and traditional reference
centers in faunistic studies, such as the Instituto
Butantan and the Museu Nacional, respectively.
Another factor that must be considered is that
the elevation can be a determining factor in the
distribution of this species. As suggested by Moura
et al. (2017), in the Atlantic forest, topographic
complexity works as a climatic barrier that
precludes the dispersion of the species.
In addition, the extinction risk of T. paucisquamis
is currently unassessed globally (IUCN 2017),
nationally (MMA 2014), and regionally (COPAM
2010), which is mostly associated with the rarity
of this species, both in nature and scientific
collections. Considering the current anthropogenic
pressure in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (Myers et al.
2000), T. paucisquamis is likely to be endangered.
Thus, we hope that this study provides information
that contributes to determine the current status risk
of T. paucisquamis, its distribution and to design
strategies for the conservation of the species.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We would like to thank Sr. Francisco Inácio
“Chiquinho, who assisted us in the logistics of
the expedition. We also thank the Amphibians
of Mantiqueira Project: “Biogeography and
Amphibian Conservation in the Mantiqueira
Mountain Complex, Southeastern Brazil” (CNPq
– 458467/2014-6) for the financial grant. We
are grateful to Dr. Felipe Polivanov Ottoni and
anonymous reviewers. Finally, we thank Jhonny
Guedes, Clodoaldo Assis and Henrique Costa for
the contributions.
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Submitted: 19 November 2018
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Associate Editor: Felipe Polivanov Ottoni
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