GuideofAmphibiansandReptilesofS?oTom?andPr?ncipe

Guide of Amphibians and Reptiles of São Tomé and Príncipe (Smashwords Edition) [電子書籍版]
César J. Pollo

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The Gulf of Guinea oceanic islands (Príncipe, São Tomé & Annobón) are the result of volcanic activity of the Cameroon Volcanic Line that occurred along this fracture in the earth’s crust during the lower Tertiary and early Quaternary and that continues inland as the Cameroon/Nigerian mountains. They are located between 220 and 350 kilometers from the western coast of Central Africa and have never been in contact with the mainland. The three islands are separated from each other and from the West African coastlines by ocean depths in excess of 3000 m.
These islands belong biogeographically to the West African rainforest zone. They are situated between two large regions (the Guinea forests and the Congo basin) that have recently received increased attention due to their exceptional biodiversity.
São Tomé and Príncipe with Annobón form the boundaries of the habitat type Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests (São Tomé, Principe and Annobón moist lowland forests ecoregion). The forests of West Africa, including the islands of the Gulf of Guinea, form one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
The species that comprise the herpetological fauna of São Tomé and Príncipe have been known to science since the latter half of the 19th Century, however much of the natural history of these island species including basic data such as the extent of intra-island distributions has remained undocumented.
The herpetofauna includes 27 species of reptiles, 16 of which are currently considered to be endemic and eight species of endemic amphibians of five families.
The reptiles and amphibians of the Gulf of Guinea islands pose some of the most difficult questions with respect to colonization. Some genetic analysis indicates that some of these species appear to have their closest relatives in East Africa. Oceanic islands accumulate endemic frog species via two key mechanisms: colonization by continental or adjacent island species or in situ diversification.
These islands harbour a diverse amphibian fauna, seven frogs and one caecilian. Amphibian's endemism on the islands are: Leptopelis palmatus, considered a classic example of island gigantism, that lives in the lowland forests and Phrynobatrachus dispar and Hyperolius drewesi only found on Príncipe. Hyperolius thomensis, Phrynobatrachus leveleve, Ptychadena newtoni and Schistometopum thomense have only been found on São Tomé.
For reptiles, aside from Naja melanoleuca, Hemidactylus longicephalus and Pelusios castaneus on São Tomé, Trachylepis cf. affinis in Príncipe, and Hemidactylus mabouia and Boaedon cf. fuliginosus on both islands, all other reptile species appear to be endemics, Hemidactylus and Lygodactylus geckos, Panaspis skinks and various snakes, Philothamnus thomensis, Philothamnus girardi (Annobón), Hapsidophrys principis, etc.
São Tomé and Príncipe is a breeding place for five of the seven known species of marine turtles in the world, has one of the 11 populations with maximum risk of extincion worldwide, turtle population of the critically endangered Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), the only viable nesting population in the Eastern Atlantic. Príncipe Island possesses one of the last sea turtle aggregations in West Africa. Despite its high conservation value, local and regional information on their numbers and habitats remains scarce.
The recent descriptions of a considerable number of new species of amphibians and reptiles from the islands, greatly increasing the number of known endemics, place an additional responsibility on the national authorities to protect the unique biodiversity of these two small islands in the Gulf of Guinea. The new taxa also highlight the biogeographical importance of the Gulf’s oceanic islands. The biodiversity and biogeography of the Gulf of Guinea islands contribute insights into speciation patterns on islands, and serve as an outstanding living laboratory for the study of island biogeography.

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