Presentation in Dortmund about Namibia

Presentation in Dortmund about Namibia

Reiseberichte Live lectures

Regina Liebel will give a detailed presentation about a great trip to Namibia on July 5, 2024 in Bergkamen near Dortmund. After the European Championship match, of course ;) .

Regina Liebel A round trip over 3481 km through Namibia [German]
DGHT City Group Dortmund
Restaurant Olympia
Im Alten Dorf 2
59192 Bergkamen
Meeting from 5.30 pm
Lecture starts at 7.30 pm

Online lecture on environmental enrichment

Online lecture on environmental enrichment

Live lectures Webinars

The DGHT’s digital regulars’ table was launched this year. This platform is ideal for all those who prefer to watch lectures and exchange ideas with other reptile keepers from the comfort of their sofa, but don’t necessarily want to travel far to do so. On Thursday, 27 June 2024, the topic will be “Enrichment for reptiles”.

This term refers to various ways of making the lives of animals in human hands more interesting. There are different forms of enrichment. The best known are certainly the different ways of obtaining food through toys, which are often seen with great apes, bears or big cats in zoos, for example. However, enrichment is also possible and highly interesting for reptiles. Tobias Machts will introduce the topic and show how it works with reptiles. Please register by e-mail to digitaler-stammtisch@dght.de.

Tobias Machts Enrichement in reptiles [German!]
6. Digitaler Stammtisch der DGHT
Start 08.00 p.m.

Presentation in Basel about the European Chameleon

Presentation in Basel about the European Chameleon

Haltungsberichte Live lectures

Markus Grimm, long-time member of the AG Chameleons and for many years entrusted in Switzerland with the implementation of expert courses for chameleon keeping, will give a detailed lecture on the European chameleon on 28 June 2024 in Basel (Switzerland).

The European chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) describes the archetype of the chameleon as such and thus has status character for the human conception of chameleons. The rather seldom kept chameleon species makes some demands on keeping and breeding, which Markus was able to fathom during trips to the habitat as well as during keeping in the terrarium. After a short introduction, which includes systematics, Markus gives insights into the habitat of this chameleon in nature. In addition, the audience will learn the most important parameters for successful keeping and breeding in the terrarium. So it will definitely be very exciting – anyone interested in chameleons should definitely watch this lecture!

Markus Grimm The European Chameleon – Habitat, husbandry & breeding
Schildkrotte Grubbe Regio Basel
Gasthof Zur Saline
Rheinstraße 23
4133 Pratteln-Schweizerhalle (Switzerland)
Lecture starts at 7.30 pm

Picture: Markus Grimm

Rhampholeon acuminatus offspring at Citizen Conservation

Rhampholeon acuminatus offspring at Citizen Conservation

AG Interna Nachzuchten

AG member Falk Eckhardt recently had a great success: His Rhampholeon acuminatus have successfully produced their first clutch of eggs. Congratulations!

The Nguru Spiny Pigmy Chameleon occurs in the wild exclusively in the small Mingu Nature Reserve in the eponymous Nguru Mountains in Tanzania. The IUCN classifies the species as critically endangered on the Red List of Threatened Species. Rhampholeon acuminatus is the first chameleon species for which a professional breeding programme has been set up as part of Citizen Conservation. The original animals come from Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna (Austria). So far, there have only been F1 offspring (= offspring of wild-caught animals). Falk’s offspring, if they hopefully hatch, would be the first F2 offspring of the Nguru Spiny Pigmy Chameleon in the Citizen Conservation project. We keep our fingers crossed!

Picture: The eggs

Presentation in Munich about Greece

Presentation in Munich about Greece

Live lectures

On Thursday, 20 June 2024, reptile specialist Jochen Zauner will give an richly illustrated lecture on Greece in Munich. He will report on his two trips to the western Peloponnese in 2006 and 2023. The Peoloponnese is a peninsula in the south of the Greek mainland. It is the southernmost part of the Balkan Peninsula and therefore the area of Greece that extends furthest into the Mediterranean. In addition to the famous cities of Mycenae, Corinth and Sparta, the peninsula is also home to a diverse herpetological fauna. Between the Strofilia forests in the north and the barren mountain slopes of the Mani in the south, you will encounter some endemics as well as old favourites of the Balkan Peninsula.

Addendum: The lecture was unfortunately cancelled due to the European Football Championship! Another date will hopefully be found.

Jochen Zauner Herpetological observations in the Peloponnese  [German!]
DGHT city group Munich
Tübinger Straße 10
80686 Munich
Start of lecture 7.00 pm

The population of Furcifer labordi in Andranomena (Madagascar)

The population of Furcifer labordi in Andranomena (Madagascar)

Science

After we already discussed a preprint on the habitat of the Labordes chameleon (Furcifer labordi) in Andranomena, Madagascar, last year, the final publication now followed after a long peer review. In fact, the focus of the paper was reconsidered and adapted.

Labordes chameleon (Furcifer labordi) has been known for several years as the world’s shortest-lived chameleon. Five scientists from Madagascar have recently investigated which factors influence the distribution and population size of the species. The study was carried out in the Andranomena Special Reserve, which is located around 30 kilometres north of the coastal town of Morondava in western Madagascar. The special reserve has various habitats used by the chameleons, such as intact dry forest with parts near and far from water as well as regrowing / heavily modified forest.

Distance sampling was used to estimate the population density of Furcifer labordi. For this purpose, each part of the forest was divided into three 50 metre transects over a width of 150 metres. At night, the chameleons were then searched for with a torch, their location measured and the animals themselves marked in colour with nail varnish. Faecal samples were collected and analysed. The following day, a 5 x 5 metre plot was marked around each site and at least 5 metres away along the transect line. In all plots, the degree of canopy cover in per cent, the thickness of the foliage layer on the ground and ground-covering plants in centimetres, the number of shrubs up to 1 m, the number of trees over 1 m and the number of felled and burnt trees were counted. Five days after the first count, chameleons were again searched for and counted at night. In addition, insects were counted and identified using light traps. Along a 1400 metre transect, observations of six species of birds of prey and four species of snakes were also counted as examples. Unfortunately, the exact species are no longer named.

Statistical analyses showed that more Furcifer labordi were found in forest sections where the canopy was denser, the foliage layer on the ground was thicker and there were more trees overall. In the parts of the forest where no chameleons were found at all, significantly more felled trees were counted. The predators observed or their presence did not appear to have any influence on the population density of the chameleons. Surprisingly, the suspected feeders present, mostly insects, also showed no effect on the distribution of the chameleon population. The height of the branches on which Furcifer labordi were found varied greatly over the observation period. However, no correlation was found between age and sex. Preferences in the choice of plants used could not be observed in the chameleons. Furthermore, the different age groups showed no clear preference in their choice of microhabitat.

The authors conclude that the declining population size is primarily due to habitat loss. Habitat loss in Andanomena is almost exclusively of human origin (deforestation for agriculture and cattle grazing, slash-and-burn).

Analyses spatiales de population de Furcifer labordi (Grandidier, 1972) dans la Réserve Spéciale d’Andranomena, Morondava-Madagascar
Philibertin Honoré Djadagna Ahy Nirindrainiarivony, Achille Philippe Raselimanana, Lily-Arison René de Roland, Willy Nathoo Veriza, Daudet Andriafidison
European Scientific Journal 20 (15), 2024,
DOI: 10.19044/esj.2024.v20n15p48
Informations about the preprint

The flap-necked chameleon on Serra da Neve (Angola)

The flap-necked chameleon on Serra da Neve (Angola)

Verbreitung Science

The Serra da Neve inselberg is located in the province of Namibe in south-west Angola on the south-western edge of Africa. At 2489 metres above sea level, it is the second highest mountain in the country. The isolated location in the middle of savannahs makes the inselberg a refuge for biodiversity, but this has so far been poorly researched concerning herps. Scientists from the USA, Portugal and Germany have recently carried out a first survey study to inventory the amphibians and reptiles of the Serra da Neve.

Three expeditions have been carried out since 2016, each lasting a few days. Eight areas were selected to search for animals, including rocky areas as well as forest, open grassland and various altitudes. Pitfall traps, snares, rubber bands and manual searches by day and night were used to find the animals. The individuals found were all killed and prepared for storage and further examination in the museum.

A total of 59 species of reptiles and amphibians were found on the inselberg. Chamaeleo dilepis was found exclusively around the village of Catchi, located at 1590 metres. The village is surrounded by granite rocks and the Miombo forest area, which is dominated by Brachystegia and Julbernardia trees. The flat parts of the plateau surrounding the village are largely deforested. The land is used for grazing cattle or for growing cereals and maize. However, the steep slopes around the village are still forested. A small river also runs through the plateau.

An island in a sea of sand: A first checklist of the herpetofauna of the Serra da Neve inselberg, southwestern Angola
Mariana P. Marques, Diogo Parrinha, Manuel Lopes-Lima, Arthur Tiutenko, Aaron M. Bauer, Luis M. P. Ceríaco
ZooKeys 1201, 2024: pp. 167-217.
DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.1201.120750

Photo: taken from the aforementioned publication

Phylogenetics of African dwarf chameleons

Phylogenetics of African dwarf chameleons

Science

The archives of museums and other zoological collections still contain a lot of single-gene fragment data. Although it is now relatively easy to decode entire genomes and prepare material for storage, this was not the case for a long time. Scientists at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa) have now investigated whether and, if so, which components of these single genes in dwarf chameleons can provide information on the entire genome with regard to the creation of phylogenetic family trees.

Samples were taken from 44 dwarf chameleons in the form of cut-off tail tips during various expeditions between 2010 and 2022. The sampled animals were captured and released in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Western Cape provinces. They belonged to the species Bradypodion barbatulum, caeruleogula, caffrum, damaranum, gutturale, melanocephalum, ngomeense, occidentale, pumilum, setaroi, taeniabronchum, thamnobates, transvaalense, ventrale, venustum as well as candidate species from Greytown, Kamberg. Karkloof Forest and Gilboa Forest in KwaZulu-Natal. An existing mitogenome of a Chamaeleo chamaeleon was used as a reference genome. In addition, the mitogenomes of seven other genera were loaded from GenBank for comparison.

DNA was extracted from all samples and phylogenetically analysed using Geneious Prime and IQ-Tree, among others. A total of 22 different alignments were created: a complete mitogenome alignment (without tRNA), 15 alignments of individual loci, the short fragment of 16S, a frequently used COI fragment, a concatenation of 16S fragment with ND2, a concatenation of ND2 and ND5, a concatenation of the two ribosomal subunits and a concatenation of all protein-coding genes (PCG). A statistical analysis of the data followed.

The results showed that the complete mitogenome topology is largely consistent with the previously published phylogenies of African dwarf chameleons from ND2-16S concatenations. The phylogeny based on the ND2 fragments proved to be more stable and even closer to the mitogenome. These gene fragments are therefore well suited to phylogenetically classify a genome and thus a chameleon species. However, there were also a few differences to the previously published phylogenies. The mitogenome topology considers Bradypodion setaroi and Bradypodion caffrum to be sister taxa. Furthermore, Bradypodion ngomeense possibly belongs genetically to the Bradypodion transvaalense clade instead of being a sister taxon of it.

The efficacy of single mitochondrial genes at reconciling the complete mitogenome phylogeny – a case study on dwarf chameleons
Devon C. Main, Jody M. Taft, Anthony J. Geneva, Bettine Jansen van Vuuren, Krystal A. Tolley
PeerJ 12:e17076, 2024
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.17076

Picture: Bradypodion transvaalense, photographed by Ryan van Huyssteen, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Presentation in Dortmund about Socotra (Yemen)

Presentation in Dortmund about Socotra (Yemen)

Live lectures

On Friday, 7 June 2024, the ‘AG veteran’ Wolfgang Schmidt will give an illustrated lecture on Socotra in Bergkamen near Dortmund. He will report on a trip to the island in the Indian Ocean. Socotra officially belongs to Yemen, but has been ruled by the United Arab Emirates since 2018. The island is also known as the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’ because its centuries of isolation as an island have allowed a unique flora and fauna to develop. Over a third of the plant species found there are endemic, and the number of amphibians and reptiles is likely to be even higher. Between dragon trees and the largest coastal dunes in the world, there are many exciting herpetological observations, including chameleons.

Wolfgang Schmidt Socotra [German!]
DGHT City Group Dortmund
Restaurant Olympia
Im Alten Dorf 2
59192 Bergkamen

Lecture starts at 7.30 pm

Five new Rhampholeon species

Five new Rhampholeon species

Neubeschreibungen Science

There is still a lot to discover about the small, brown pygmy chameleons on the African mainland. After new species were discovered in the Rhampholeon uluguruensis/moyeri complex in Tanzania two years ago, international scientists have now taken a closer look at the Rhampholeon boulengeri complex. And as expected, new species have been discovered!

The pygmy chameleons from this complex inhabit various habitats along the Albertine Rif). This 6000 km long chain of mountains and rifts stretches from Lake Albert in Uganda to Lake Tanganyika. It crosses the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. In the genus Rhampholeon, the species hardly differ externally, but often live in very different habitats or can be easily distinguished from each other genetically. The authors analysed over 130 pygmy chameleons from more than 20 different locations as well as the lectotypes (the holotype no longer exists) of the species Rhampholeon boulengeri. Using genetic analyses, they were able to identify five new Rhampholeon species.

The already known species Rhampholeon boulengeri, described by Grauer in 1908, occurs exclusively in its type locality according to the current data. This is the Itombwe Plateau in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at altitudes between 2100 and 2470 metres.

Rhampholeon plumptrei was named in honour of the English zoologist Andrew Plumptre. As chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Society, he has been campaigning for species conservation along the African Rift Valley for almost 20 years. The species lives in montane and submontane rainforest at altitudes of 1203-2269 metres, although they are most commonly found at 1200 to 1700 metres. The distribution ranges from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo with the Kahuzi-Biega National Park to the west of Kenya to the Kakamega Forest National Reserve. In between, Rhampoleon plumptrei can be found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in Mabira and in Kalinzu Central Forest Reserve in western Uganda. It has a clearly visible nasal appendage and a slightly shorter tail than Rhampholeon boulengeri. Rhampholeon plumptrei grows up to 60 mm in size. The males have a white colouration on the throat and belly and one or two diagonal dark stripes on the body. Most chameleons of this species have a dark-coloured tubercle on the back of the neck.

Rhampholeon nalubaale was named after the Luganda word for ‘goddess’, which is also the native name of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. So far, only the females of this species are known, males have not yet been found. Rhampholeon nalubaale occurs in submontane rainforest at altitudes of 513 to 1506 metres. It is most common in the Kibale National Park in Uganda, but can also be found in the Budungo Central Forest Reserve in the same country and in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park and the Itombwe Natural Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rhampholeon nalubaale grows up to 56 mm long. One of the animals found was illuminated with UV light and some of the tubercles in the face fluoresced blue, as is already known from other chameleons – but this is new for the genus Rhampholeon. The species occurs together with Trioceros johnstoni and Kinyongia tolleyae.

Rhampholeon bombayi was named after the waYao explorer Sidi Mubarak Bombay. He was born in 1820 on the border between Tanzania and Mozambique and was sold to India as a slave at an early age. He later returned to Africa and made a name for himself on expeditions by British explorers in East Africa. Rhampholeon bombayi grows up to 55 mm long. It lives in montane forests at altitudes of 1450 to 2330 metres in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has so far been recorded in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Kabobo Natural Reserve, Itombwe Natural Reserve and Nyungwe Forest National Park. Trioceros johnstoni and Trioceros schoutedeni also live in the same forest. The animals have two or three dark lines diagonally on the body, the tail and extremities are often darker brown than the trunk.

Rhampholeon msitugrabensis was named after the Albertine Rift. The Swahili word for forest, msitu, and the German word for rift, Graben, were combined. This ground chameleon grows up to 49 mm in size. It inhabits forest edges near Mpishi close to Kibira National Park in Burundi. Rhampholeon msitugrabensis is also described from Mount Bigugu in Nyungwe Forest National Park in Rwanda, so that its occurrence extends from 1986 to 2699 metres. In the Nyungwe Forest, Rhampholeon msitugrabensis occurs allopatrically with Rhampholeon bombayi, more precisely in the Kamiranzovu swamp area at 2000 to 2330 m altitude. Other chameleons that share a habitat with Rhampholeon msitugrabensis are Trioceros ellioti, Chamaeleo dilepis and Kinyongia rugegensis.

Rhampholeon monteslunae was named after its habitat, the Rwenzori Mountains on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. This mountain range, where the Nile rises, was described by Ptolemy as ‘Lunae Montes’ as early as 150 AD. Rhampholeon monteslunae occurs at altitudes of 1655 to 2360 metres and is most common in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park near the entrance to Nyakalengija. Another population can be found in the Bururi Forest Nature Reserve in Burundi. This ground chameleon grows up to 47 mm long. Kinyongia carpenteri, Kinyongia xenorhina, Kinyongia tolleyae, Trioceros ellioti, Trioceros johnstoni and Trioceros rudis are also found in the same forests.

Taxonomy of the Rhampholeon boulengeri Complex (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae): Five new species from central Africa’s Albertine Rift
Daniel F. Hughes, Mathias Behangana, Wilber Lukwago, Michele Menegon, J. Maximilian Dehling, Philipp Wagner, Colin R. Tilbury, Trisan South, Chifundera Kusamba, Eli Greenbaum
Zootaxa Vol. 5458 4, 2024, pp. 451-494
DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.5458.4.1

Photo: From top left to bottom right Rhampholeon boulengeri, Rhampholeon plumptrei, Rhampholeon nalubaale, Rhampholeon bombayi, Rhampholeon msitugrabensis und Rhampholeon monteslunae from the mentioned publication