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Habitat associations and conservation status of an endemic forest dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion sp.) from South Africa


Walter J. Reisinger a1, Devi M. Stuart-Fox a1 and Barend F.N. Erasmus a1c1
a1 School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa

Article author query
reisinger wj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
stuart-fox dm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
erasmus bfn   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

We quantified habitat associations and evaluated the conservation status of a recently identified, undescribed species of dwarf chameleon, Bradypodion sp. nov. Dhlinza, endemic to scarp forest remnants in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. At the microhabitat scale the Dhlinza dwarf chameleon was found more often in forest gaps and near paths than highly disturbed edges or forest interior. Chameleon presence was not explained by forest physiognomic variables such as vine cover, shrub and tree density, or canopy cover. Presence near gaps may be better explained by the combined effects of the thermal microenvironment and food availability. The species is moderately common where it occurs, with estimated densities of 4.7, 8.7 and 29.7 individuals per ha within forest interior, edges and gaps respectively. At the landscape scale, the chameleon occurs only in three remnant forests: the Dhlinza, Entumeni and Ongoye Forests. The species' extent of occurrence was estimated to be 88 km2 and its area of occupancy 49 km2. Based on the small area of remaining suitable habitat, this species meets the requirements for categorization as Endangered according to IUCN Red List criteria.

(Published Online April 10 2006)
(Received December 17 2004)
(Revised April 20 2005)
(Accepted June 14 2005)
(April 10 2006)


Key Words: Abundance; Bradypodion; chameleon; edge effect; fragmentation; gaps; scarp forest; South Africa.

Correspondence:
c1 Correspondence: School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa. E-mail barend@biology.biol.wits.ac.za


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