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Preliminary observation on amphibians and reptiles at Gannoruwa Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka

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Preliminary observation on amphibians and reptiles at Gannoruwa Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka
Preliminary observation on amphibians and reptiles
at Gannoruwa Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka
Buwaneka S. Pathirana1,2 Sanath Bandara Herath1 Kasun T. Munasinghe1
Nimantha Abeyrathne1
1. Youth Exploration Society of Sri Lanka, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
2. Corresponding author. E-mail:
Gannoruwa Forest Reserve (7º 17’ N, 80º 36’ E) is situated in Kandy district in the Central Province of
Sri Lanka. It is a low land semi-evergreen forest at 680 m above mean sea level. Gannoruwa Forest
reserve is the site where many Holotypes (Manamendra-Arachchi, K. & Pethiyagoda, R., 2005),
(Wickramasinghe, L.J.M., 2006), (Wickramasinghe, L.J.Mendis; & D.A.I. Munindradasa, 2007) of
reptiles and amphibians have been found as well as used in several researches. (Bandara, I.N, 2012),
(Somaweera, R., 2009) However, no complete studies on the herpetofauna have been conducted to
date. The present communication is on few amphibians and reptiles observed during a brief field
Material and methods
The reserve is a remnant forest patch covering an area of 250 acres and is surrounded by villages.
The vegetation within the Gannoruwa Forest Reserve can be grouped into natural forest, naturalized
plantations (i.e., abandoned cocoa, tea, coffee, Artocarpus heterophyllus, etc.), grasslands, and
mahogany plantations. Home gardens comprise most of the anthropogenic ecosystems bordering
the reserve. The animals were observed between 2130h on 22 November 2015 to 0030h on 23
November 2015 while walking along a foot path to the peak.
Duttaphrynus melanostictus
(Schneider, 1799)
E:Common toad;
S:Gey gemba
Observed 4 individuals (3 males & 1
female) on leaf-litter.
Family : RANIDAE
Lankanectes corrugatus
E:Corrugated water frog;
S:Vaka reli diya madiya
Observed one female individual in
shallow stream.
Indosylvirana serendipi
(Biju at al. 2014)E
E:Golden frog;
S:Ranvan diya madiya
Observed one female individual on a
low bush along the stream.
Pseudophilautus rus
(Megaskumbura &
Manamendra-Arachcchi, 2005)E
E:Kandian shrub frog;
S:Nuwara panduru madiya
Observed more than 15 individuals on
low bushes along the foot path.
Pseudophilautus schneideri
(Meegaskumbura, M. &
Manamendra-Arachchi, K.,
E:Schneider's shrub frog;
S:Schneiderge panduru madiya
Observed 3 individuals (2 male & 1
female) on low bushes along the foot
path and one male on lower bark of a
tree trunk.
Pseudophilautus zorro
Manamendra-Arachchi &
Pethiyagoda, 2005)E
E:Gannoruwa shrub frog;
S:Gannoruwa panduru madiya
Observed 5 individuals (2male and 3
female) on leaf-litter and two males on
low bushes along the foot path.
Polypedates maculatus
(Gray, 1834)
E:Spotted tree frog;
S:Pulli gas madiya
Observed one female on a Ardisia tree
and another female on a bark of a tree
trunk along the foot path.
Figure 01: The list of the amphibians observed during the field trip
Lyriocephalus scutatus
E: Lyre head lizard / Hump
snout lizard;
S: Gatahombukatussa / Karamal
Observed 5 individuals (1 adult female,
1 sub adult male & 3 juveniles) on
Ardisia trees along the footpath.
Otocryptis wiegmanni
(Wagler, 1830)E
E: Sri Lankan kangaroo lizard;
S: Gomu talikatussa / Pinum
Observed 5 individuals (3 adult female,
1 adult male & 1 juvenile) on bushes
along footpath.
Cnemaspis scalpensis
E: Gannoruva day gecko;
S: Gannoruva divasarihuna
Observed one juvenile under a bark of
a tree trunk
Lankascincus dorsicatenatus
E: Catenated litter skink;
S: Damwal singitihikanala
Observed one male under decaying
Boiga barnesii
(Günther, 1869)E
E: Barnes’s cat snake,
S: Panduru mapila
Observed one male (sub adult) on a low
Ardisia tree along the foot path
Hypnale zara
(Gray, 1849)E
E: Stripe-necked hump-nosed
S: Wayiram gelathi Kunakatuwa
Observed one male on the top of a
Ardisia plant (height of 3ft) along the
Figure 02: The list of the reptiles observed during the field trip
In our former studies we have been observed nearly 14 species of amphibians and more than 30
species of reptiles. (Yet to publish) During the course of this brief study we observed
Pseudophilautus schneideri (Meegaskumbura, M. & Manamendra-Arachchi, K., 2011) as an
additional amphibian species of that check list. Also during this short period (within 3 hours) of study
we able to observed 07 amphibian species and 06 reptile species. This indicates that a well-planned
survey of this forest reserve may reveal richer amphibian and reptile diversity.
We thank Ashan Tharaka Piyasinghe and Damith Jayanga for their great support. Also we would
thank to Anusha Aththanagoda, Lasantha Abeyrathne, Dushantha Chathuranga and all the members
of Youth Exploration Society for various curtsies.
Bandara I.N (2012). Territorial and site fidelity behavior of Lyriocephalus scutatus (Agamidae:
Draconinae) in Sri Lanka. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 5(2):101-113.
Hemachandra I.I; Edirisinghe J.P; Karunarathne W.A.I.P; Gunatilleke C.V.S (2011). Diversity and
Abundance of Termites in a Mahogany Plantation in the Gannoruwa Hills. Proceedings of the
Peradeniya University Research Sessions, Sri Lanka, Vol. 16, 24th November 2011
MANAMENDRA-ARACHCHI, K.; PETHIYAGODA, R. 2005: The Sri Lankan shrub frogs of the
genus Philautus Gistel, 1848 (Ranidae: Rhacophorinae), with description of 27 new species. In: YEO,
C.J.; NG, P.K.L. & PETHIYAGODA, R. (eds.) Contributions to biodiversity exploration and research in Sri
Lanka. Raffles bulletin of zoology, supplement 12: 163303
Meegaskumbura M; manamendraarachchi K (2011) Two new species of shrub frogs (Rhacophoridae:
Pseudophilautus) from Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 2747: 118
Somaweera R (2009). Reproductive ecology of the Kandyan Day Gecko, Cnemaspis kandiana, in
Gannoruwa Forest Reserve. J.Natn.Sci.Foundation Sri Lanka 2009 37 (1):13-22
Wickramasinghe L.J Mendis; D.A.I MUNINDRADASA (2007). Review of the genus Cnemaspis Strauch,
1887 (Sauria: Gekkonidae) in Sri Lanka with the description of five new species. Zootaxa 1490: 1-63
Wickramasinghe, L.J.M. (2006). A new species of Cnemaspis (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from Sri Lanka.
Zootaxa 1369: 19-33
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Full-text available
Five new species of geckos are described from Sri Lanka by morphological comparison and morphometric analysis leading to review the genus Cnemaspis in the country. The type series of these species were identified from following localities: C. alwisi and C. kumarasinghei from the intermediate zone, C. retigalensis from the dry zone, C. molligodai from the lowland wet zone and C. samanalensis from the mountain region of the wet zone in the country. The high degree of endemicity (90%) shown by Cnemaspis in Sri Lanka could be attributed to geographical isolation. In addition, the taxonomic issue of C. jerdonii scalpensis is discussed and the species C. scalpensis is errected.
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Natural forests in the Gannoruwa hills have been subjected to many disturbances: slopes (518-670 m) converted into cocoa plantations, which are much degraded now and parts of the summit planted with mahogany (712 m). Only the rest (>700 m) remains less disturbed. The impact of the mahogany plantation on forest termite fauna (an indicator taxon) was examined with the objective of determining species composition, species richness, abundance and feeding habits of termites. Termites were sampled using the standard belt transect (2 x 100 m) method. Their identity was determined and abundance recorded based on number of encounters/hits of different species. Species richness and feeding habits of termites were based on their taxonomic identity. Comparisons were made with the less disturbed natural forest (741 m) and degraded natural forest (578 m) in the Gannoruwa hills. A total of ten termite species in five genera of the Family Termitidae namely, Bulbitermes sp.1, Ceylonitermellus hantanae, Dicuspiditermes incola, Nasutitermes sp.1, Odontotermes bellahunisensis, O. globicola, O. guptai, O. hainanensis, Odontotermes sp. 6 and Odontotermes sp. 5 were recorded from the mahogany plantation. Genus Odontotermes (6 spp.) had the largest representation. Odontotermes sp. 5 (8 hits) was the most abundant followed by endemic C. hantanae (5 hits). The least abundant were O. globicola and Odontotermes sp. 6 (1 hit each). Termite fauna was dominated by fungus growing wood feeding Odontotermes spp. (6 species). Nasutitermes sp.1 and Bulbitermes sp. 2 are non-fungus growing wood feeders. Of the other two species, D. incola is a soil– wood interface feeder and C. hantanae is a soil feeder. Termite fauna of the mahogany plantation differed from the other two forest types. Mahogany plantation yielded the least number of species (10), degraded forest the highest (13), followed by the less disturbed forest (12). Three species were common to all three forests, while 5 species in disturbed forest and 4 species in degraded forest were shared with the plantation forest. Odontotermes sp. 6, C. hantanae, and D. incola were recorded only from the plantation. All species in the plantation forest belonged to the family Termitidae and those in the other two forests to Termitidae and Kalotermitidae. Absence of Family Kalotermitidae (dry wood termites) in the plantation reflects the resistant nature of mahogany wood. The most abundant species, both in plantation (8 hits) and natural forest (9 hits) was Odontotermes sp. 5, which was absent from degraded forest. The most abundant species in degraded forest, Nasutitermes sp.1 (8 hits), was less abundant in plantation (4 hits). Majority of species (16/23) in all 3 forests are wood feeding termites.
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This study on territorial behavior of Lyriocephalus scutatus suggests that territorial behavior is an important component of the life history of the species. Lyriocephalus scutatus belongs to the monotypic genus Lyriocephalus, and apparently its uniqueness, placing it in its own genus, extends to its strange behavior and atypical site fidelity. To understand this territorial behavior, two populations were observed while continuously recording other factors influencing territorial and site fidelity behaviors. Individual lizards performed various behaviors in their daily active periods on tree trunks and on the ground. They also exhibited highly specific synchronized territorial behavior among other individuals in the same population. Behavioral patterns differed between males and females, and the degree of “aerial horizontal distribution” of L. scutatus seems to be a novel behavior among lizards. Individual L. scutatus are highly territorial over other individuals of the same sex, as adult males observed in the study sites solely performed their territorial displays on a specific tree, whereas females occupied the largest territories.
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Breeding habitats and environmental conditions preferred by Cnemaspis kandiana, its oviposition and reproduction aspects, its interactions with other species in the nesting habitat, and the mode of oviposition were investigated at the Gannoruwa Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka, during fortnightly field surveys from June 2005 to January 2006. Eleven egg clusters in five caves at Gannoruwa were sampled and data on the environmental conditions inside the caves, number of hatched and unhatched eggs, hatchlings, adults and other faunal species in the nesting habitat recorded. Six eggs were incubated in the laboratory. At the nesting sites, ambient temperature varied from 23-30 ºC and light intensity from 0-350 lux. The eggs were predominantly laid as pairs (on 85% occasions) suggesting that C. kandiana has invariant clutch size. The hatched and unhatched eggs at each location varied from 1 to over 100, though the maximum number of unhatched developing eggs found at a given time was 18, i.e., a cluster size to vary from 1-18 eggs. Eggs tend to hatch in pairs, after an apparent incubation period of 39-58 days. The hatchlings had a total length of 23.5-25.8 mm. No interaction with regard to reproduction was found between C. kandiana and any other animals at the breeding sites. The egg-laying in this species is probably a combined effect of site fidelity of a female and communal nesting. This might be due to relative scarcity of preferred habitats in the study area.
A new species of Cnemaspis, C. ranwellai is described from Gannoruwa in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This species differs from all other Cnemaspis species by having 12–15 femoral pores and having spine-like tubercles on the body and tail. Males have a distinct yellow colour in the throat area. It is similar to Cnemaspis jerdoni scalepensis Ferguson, 1877, but differs from the former by having spine-like tubercles in the tail, a fewer number of ventral scales at mid ventral region, presence of dorsal tubercles in the mid body area and by having completely different colour patterns in the throat and dorsal neck region.
Two new species of Sri Lankan shrub frogs of the genus Pseudophilautus are described. These species are diagnosed from their congeners on the basis of morphology, morphometrics and mitochondrial DNA sequence data. Pseudophilautus schneideri, new species, is distinguished from all Sri Lankan Pseudophilautus by its small size (< 22.8 mm SVL), distinct tympanum and supratympanic fold, sharp canthal edges, granular throat, chest and belly, and absence or presence of a vomerine ridge. Pseudophilautus hankeni, new species, is distinguished by its diminutive size (< 21.9 mm SVL), distinct tympanum, rounded canthal edges, tuberculated outer edge of lower arm, tuberculated dermal fold on outer edge of foot, granular throat, chest and belly, and the absence of a vomerine ridge. Pseudophilautus schneideri inhabits shrubs in open areas of the low to mid-elevations of the island’s south-western ‘wet zone’ (rainfall > 2,000 mm•yr -1 ), including anthropogenic habitats, while P. hankeni is found on shrubs in the understorey of montane forests of the highest peaks (c. 1,200– 1,600 m elevation) of the Knuckles region. These descriptions bring the total number of valid species of Sri Lankan Pseudophilautus to 67, 48 of which are extant.