Komodo dragon discovery on Flores, Indonesia


This video is called Massive Lizards: Documentary on Giant Komodo Dragons.

From BirdLife:

Komodo Dragons found in unprotected Indonesian IBA

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 18/12/2013 – 11:09

A team including staff from BirdLife Partner Burung Indonesia has confirmed the presence of the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest lizard, in the west of Flores Island, Indonesia. The discovery adds further urgency to the BirdLife Partnership’s campaign to gain formal protection for the Mbeliling Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), which includes the forests where the giant lizards were found.

Komodo Dragon Varanus komodoensis is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Camera traps recorded at least 12 individuals in the Mbeliling forest in the extreme west of Flores, opposite the small islands of Komodo and Rinca, which are the known strongholds of the Komodo Dragon. The Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, includes these islands and a section of the Flores coast, but the Mbeliling IBA lies outside its boundaries.

As recently as 2004, Komodo Dragons were found at sites on the north and south coasts of Flores, but the survey work by Burung Indonesia and others provides the first confirmation that they also survive in the west.

“We hope these discoveries will be widely publicised and help our efforts to protect this irreplaceable biodiversity-rich forest area”, said Burung Indonesia’s communications officer, Irfan Saputra.

BirdLife has identified Mbeliling as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area because of its populations of threatened restricted range species, including the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea, and Flores Hanging-parrot Loriculus flosculus, Flores Monarch Monarcha sacerdotum and Flores Crow Corvus florensis, which are all considered Endangered.

Without formal protection, the forest of Mbeliling IBA is being cleared to create agricultural land, which soon becomes exhausted, leading to further forest clearance. BirdLife has been working with the people of 27 villages around the IBA to make agricultural practices more sustainable, and to restore and enhance soil nutrients using organic farming methods, thereby reducing the pressure on the forests.

Danida, the Danish International Development Assistance funded this work.

New Vietnamese lizard discovery


This video is called Sticky gecko feet – Space Age Reptiles – BBC.

From Zootaxa:

A new species of Hemiphyllodactylus (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from northern Vietnam

Abstract

We describe a new species of the genus Hemiphyllodactylus on the basis of four specimens from Cao Bang Province, northern Vietnam.

Hemiphyllodactylus zugi sp. nov. is distinguished from the remaining congeners by a combination of the following characters: a bisexual taxon; average SVL of adult males 41 mm, of adult female 46.6 mm; chin scales bordering mental and first infralabial distinctly enlarged; digital lamellae formulae 3-4-4-4 (forefoot) and 4-5-5-5 (hindfoot); femoral and precloacal pore series continuous, 18–21 in total in males, absent in female; cloacal spur single in males; dorsal trunk pattern of dark brown irregular transverse bands; dark lateral head stripe indistinct; upper zone of flank with a series of large light spots, edged above and below in dark grey; caecum and gonadal ducts unpigmented.

Key words:

Slender Gecko, karst forest, phylogeny, taxonomy, Cao Bang Province, Ha Lang District

Introduction

The genus Hemiphyllodactylus contains nine species worldwide but only H. yunnanensis Boulenger, 1903 is currently known from Vietnam (Zug 2010).

Galapagos marine iguanas video


This video says about itself:

Marine IguanasGalapagos Islands

OceanShutter.com presents yet another Underwater Film. Please feel free to Share or Like this Video!

This was filmed in August 2013 in the Galapagos Islands. Filmed using Canon 5d Mark II, and a 15mm fisheye lens.

This was also filmed using natural light. No artificial lights were used.

The Marine Iguanas in the Galapagos Islands have adapted to swim and their diet consists of Algae and Seaweed. During the day the[y] group together and lay in the sun. They also will blow salt out of the nostrils. It is quite a sight!

The Booby birds are probably the most well-known of the birds that live on the Galapagos Islands: here.

This is a full frame image of a Red-footed booby. You can get very close to these birds and with the help of a 400 mm lens you can capture some great images. Image captured while visiting Genovesa in the Galapagos Islands: here.

Climate change threatens unique Galápagos cormorant: here.

Galapagos underwater photos: here.

Australian lizards, frog new species discoveries


This video from Queensland, Australia says about itself:

Unique biodiversity of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve

2 July 2013

Sign the petition to help us Save Steve’s Place here.

This amazing footage features some of the unique biodiversity on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula.

The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is a conservation property and a tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

The 135,000 ha property, in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, is home to a set of important spring fed wetlands which provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife.

Currently the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve is being threatened by strip mining.

UPDATE: Campbell Newman, the Premier of Queensland, Australia, has promised the Steve Irwin Reserve on Cape York will be protected forever from mining under new legislation: here.

From RT:

Australia’s ‘lost world’ dazzles with new species

October 28, 2013 12:57

A remote mountain range in northern Australia just gave the world three new species after sitting in isolation for millions of years – including a ‘primitive-looking’ gecko. The scientists are excited for a return, hopeful of uncovering more new species.

We now know of a peculiar leaf-tailed gecko, a golden skink lizard and a brown-spotted yellow frog – none of them previously seen.

The expedition carried out by Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University and a film crew from National Geographic was to a difficult-to-reach and previously unexplored part of the Cape York Peninsula, which previously had only been subjected to lowland studies of impassable boulder fields.

The area is covered with tons of giant black granite boulders extending vertically for hundreds of meters and the result of nature’s furious prehistoric natural processes. But atop the mountain range, recently captured by satellites, sits a rainforest previously only explored by satellites.

Mere days upon arrival, Hoskin and his crew stumbled upon not one – but three new species at the same time. “The top of Cape Melville is a lost world. Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a lifetime — I’m still amazed and buzzing from it,” Hoskin, a tropical biologist by trade, told AFP.

“Finding three new, obviously distinct vertebrates would be surprising enough in somewhere poorly explored like New Guinea, let alone in Australia, a country we think we’ve explored pretty well,” he continued, adding that a few other interesting things were uncovered that may be new to science – but declined to comment further.

Of the three new species the gecko fascinated the team the most. It was described as a “primitive-looking”, 20cm creature that is a nod to an era when rainforests were far more widespread in Australia. The pre-historic reptile also has huge eyes, with a long slender body, but all in all a very different animal to its relatives.

“The second I saw the gecko I knew it was a new species. Everything about it was obviously distinct,” he said.

The newfound Leaf-tailed Gecko names Saltuarius eximius by Hoskin as the findings were publicized in the international journal Zootoxa.

As far as differences with close relatives go, the skink is also very notable, as it displays very distinct characteristics from its geographical neighbor in the rainforests to the south.

The newly-discovered frog is creative in its use of the surrounding terrain. Because frogs require water for eggs to develop, the frog leaves them in between the moist areas of the giant boulders, far from ideal – but it works: in the absence of water, the tadpole develops fully within the egg, before hatching.

Also on the research team was a National Geographic photographer and Harvard University researcher Tim Laman, who relayed his amazement at how such discoveries are still taking place.

“What’s really exciting about this expedition is that in a place like Australia, which people think is fairly well explored, there are still places like Cape Melville where there are all these species to discover,” Laman said, adding that “there’s still a big world out there to explore.”

The team is happy at the prospect of discovering even more new species as they plan to return in a matter of months. They mentioned the possibility of new species of snails, spiders and, surprisingly enough – small mammals.

“All the animals from Cape Melville are incredible just for their ability to persist for millions of years in the same area and not go extinct. It’s just mind-blowing,” Hoskin concluded.

Rare Horned Lizards of Sri Lanka Revealed: here.

For those who discover new species, the prospect of their science being used to poach the species is a strange one: here.

Butterflies, lizards, abandoned village in Italy


Olivetta San Michele, 17 September 2013

After the botanical garden of 16 September 2013 in Liguria, Italy, 17 September 2013, more to the north, around Olivetta village.

Wall lizard, Ciantri, Italy, 17 September 2013

Again, a wall lizard near a flower-pot.

Small white male, Italy, 17 September 2013

A male small white butterfly along the path.

Brown and white butterfly, Italy, 17 September 2013

A brown and white butterfly on a wall.

Today, again downstream, to the abandoned village Bussare.

On the butterfly-bush near the bridge, a small white.

In the old tyre on the riverside pebbles, this time we don’t see reptiles, like three days ago.

In a quiet part of the mostly fast stream, small fish.

Wall lizard on tyre, Italy, 17 September 2013

When we look at the old tyre again five minutes later, there is a reptile: a wall lizard. Then, it hides inside one of the holes in the tyre.

Jersey tiger moth, Italy, 17 September 2013

After we have passed the bridge, a Jersey tiger moth.

Along the old footpath to Bussare, a small irrigation canal; with pondskaters.

Bussare, Italy, 17 September 2013

We approach Bussare. No sign of inhabitants. Only some holidaymakers.

Flowers, dragonflies and lizard at Italian botanical garden


This video is called Hanbury garden, Liguria, Italy.

16 September 2013, after 15 September in Liguria, Italy. Today, to the Hanbury Botanical Gardens near Ventimiglia.

As we wait for the bus, goldfinches. A green woodpecker calls.

From the bus, a male pheasant crossing the main road.

We pass the botanical garden entrance.

Hanbury Botanical Gardens, Italy, near the entrance, 16 September 2013

A great tit calls.

In the garden, especially subtropical climate plants. From various countries, but especially from Mexico and South Africa.

Near the entrance, Senecio serpens, a succulent from South Africa.

Kleinia petraea, Italy, 16 September 2013

A bit further, another South African: Kleinia petraea.

Hanbury Botanical Gardens, Italy, 16 September 2013

We went a bit more downhill, closer to the sea.

In a pond near the villa, goldfish. A dragonfly on the bank.

Cyphostemma juttae, Italy, 16 September 2013

Another plant, this time from Namibia: Cyphostemma juttae.

A saguaro cactus from Mexico.

Wall lizard, Italy, 16 September 2013

A bit further, a wall lizard.

Common darter male, Italy, 16 September 2013

And a male common darter dragonfly on a leaf.

We reach the end of the botanical garden: the sea-coast. Stay tuned for a report on the way back through the garden.

Lizards, moths and butterflies in Italy


Young wall lizard near flower pot, Italy, 15 September 2013

After 14 September in Liguria, Italy, today 15 September. With a young wall lizard next to a flower pot.

Grasshopper, Italy, 15 September 2013

A grasshopper along the path.

Butterflies along the irrigation canal.

A dung beetle rolls a ball of dung across the path.

A big lizard disappears quickly into a hole in a wall.

We reach a hilltop above the cemetery of Olivetta village.

Six-spot burnet moth, Italy, 15 September 2013

A six-spot burnet moth on grass.

Hilltop view, Italy, 15 September 2013

We look around, at other hills and mountains.

Ciantri, Italy, 15 September 2013

We go downhill. Below us, Ciantri hamlet.

Torre village, Italy, 15 September 2013

To the other side, Torre village.

As we go down, on a yellow flower, a grasshopper.

River clubtail, Italy, 15 September 2013

A bit further, a female red-veined darter dragonfly.

Common blue, Italy, 15 September 2013

A common blue butterfly on a grass stem.

Then, a hummingbird hawk-moth. Moving too fast to photograph.

Olivetta in the rain, Italy, 15 September 2013

As evening starts to fall, it rains. We see Olivetta village through a curtain of rain.

Ecoducts good for reptiles


This video is called Britain in Cold Blood – Slow Worm take 2.

Research about slow worms near the Hoog Buurlo ecoduct in the Netherlands shows that wildlife passages really help reptiles.

Sand lizards, common lizards and grass snakes were found as well.

Rare Australian lizard research


Guthega Skinks enjoy basking on rocks in the Bogong High Plains. Photo: Mike Swan

From Wildlife Extra:

Rare Australian skink seems unaffected by fires

Guthega Skink gives up a few of its secrets

July 2013. A threatened species of alpine skink has given up some big secrets on how they survive bushfires that will provide vital information to help its survival. The Australian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has partnered with La Trobe University to uncover some of the secrets behind the survival of one of the Australian State of Victoria‘s rarest reptiles.

La Trobe University zoology student Zak Atkins has been studying the nationally endangered Guthega Skink (Liopholis guthega) in the isolated rocky outcrops of the Bogong High Plans [sic; Plains]. The Guthega Skink is listed as Threatened under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna (FFG) Act.

2003 wild fires

“A big part of my research focused on the impact of the 2003 wildfires in the Alpine National Park on Guthega Skink populations. I found that this species may be more tolerant to wildfires than previously thought,” Mr Atkins said.

“Wildfire had been thought to be the biggest immediate threat to the survival of this species, given their restriction to high altitude habitats and small geographic range. However, the Guthega Skink probably survives fire by sheltering in burrows in rocky areas. I discovered that burrows in areas that were burned in 2003 were more likely to be under rocks than shrubs, with burrows under shrubs more common in unburnt areas. Skinks inhabiting burrows under rocks were more likely to be protected during the fire.”

Little difference in populations between burnt and unburnt areas

“After comparing Guthega Skink abundance, age structure and morphology in populations at both burnt and unburnt areas, I discovered there was little difference between lizards in these two areas, suggesting that, ten years after the fire, this disturbance had no discernible effect on this species. However, my study occurred a decade after the fire, so the Guthega Skink has had time to recover from any immediate impacts. Before we can draw robust conclusions on the effects of fire on this species it will be necessary to conduct similar studies immediately after a fire.”

Climate change threat

“The effects of climate change could have a major impact on the future of Guthega Skink populations. The limited and specific habitat characteristics of this alpine skink may not withstand the warming effects of climate change, as this species is reliant on alpine conditions to survive.”

Senior Scientist at DEPI’s Arthur Rylah Institute Nick Clemann said: “Zac Atkins’ research made a vital contribution towards conservation planning for the Guthega Skink.”

“This is the first detailed study of this species’ biology and ecology in Victoria. The knowledge gained from this study has taught us a great deal about the Guthega Skink’s diet, foraging behaviour, reproduction and vital habitat attributes,” Mr Clemann said.

“This will help us to protect their habitat and it also contributes valuable information that will help with the captive program at Healesville Sanctuary, where the Guthega Skink is one of Zoos Victoria’s ‘Fighting Extinction’ species.”

North American glass lizard, video


In this video from Canada, a relative of the Dutch slow worm.

The video says about itself:

ARC #18: Hidden Biodiversity – Glass Lizards

“One of the fascinating features of amphibians and reptiles is the diversity of life forms they represent. The legless lizards are among the more unusual.”

“The great outdoors is the foundation of all life on Earth, including yours.”

Episode 18 of a year-long 24 episode education-outreach video series starring Whit Gibbons (Herpetologist and Author), produced in cooperation with The Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy.