Taxonomy, Natural History, and Distribution of the Snakes of the Nicobar Islands (India), Based on New Materials and with an Emphasis on Endemic Species

S. P. Vijayakumar, Patrick David

Abstract


During an extensive survey of herpetofauna of the Nicobar Islands, a total of 15 islands were sampled for snakes. A total of 14 species of snakes belonging to 11 genera and five families were recorded. The colubrid Oligodon woodmasoni was recorded for the first time since its description. We also confirm the occurrence of the pitvipers Trimeresurus albolabris and Trimeresurus andersoni. More than 50 new geographical localities have been identified for the species recorded. For the first time ecological and distributional data are provided for the endemic species Trimeresurus labialis, Trimeresurus cantori, Oligodon woodmasoni, Dendrelaphis humayuni, Lycodon tiwarii, and Boiga wallachi. A compilation of the past-confirmed records of snake species and the results of the current study indicate the Nicobar Islands snake fauna is composed of 19 species of non-marine and three species of marine snakes. The highest number of species was observed in forest and the encounter rate was greater in streams, ponds and caves. Grasslands, though extensive in the Central Nicobars, supported very few species. Trimeresurus cantori was identified as the most commonly encountered species in the Central Nicobars. The encounter rate for T. cantori was more than twice the next common species, Trimeresurus labialis.

Keywords


Reptilia; Serpentes; Nicobar Islands; India; Distribution; Encounter rate; Trimeresurus; Taxonomy; Natural History

Full Text:

PDF

References


Anderson J. (1871), “On some Indian reptiles,” Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1871, 149 – 211.

Annandale N. (1905), “Addition to the collection of oriental snakes in the Indian Museum. Part 2; Specimens from the Andaman and Nicobars,” J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, 1(7), 173 – 176.

Anonymous (1986), An Integrated Environmentally Sound Development Strategy for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Unpublished Report by a Joint Committee Constituted by the Planning Commission.

Biswas S. and Sanyal D. P. (1965), “A new species of wolfsnake of the genus Lycodon Boie (Reptilia: Serpentes: Colubridae) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” Proc. Zool. Soc. Calcutta, 18, 137 – 141, Plate 5.

Biswas S. and Sanyal D. P. (1977), “Notes on the Reptilia collection from the Great Nicobar Island during Great Nicobar Expedition in 1966,” Rec. Zool. Surv. India, 72, 107 – 124.

Biswas S. and Sanyal D. P. (1980), “A report on the Reptilia fauna of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the collection of Zoological Survey of India,” Rec. Zool. Surv. India, 71, 255 – 292.

Biswas S. (1984), “Some notes on the reptiles of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., 81, 476 – 481.

Blyth E. (1846), “Notes on the fauna of the Nicobar Islands; Reptilia,” J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, 15, 367 – 379.

Collins N. M., Sayer J. A., and Whitmore T. C. (Eds.) (1991), The Conservation Atlas of Tropical Forests. Asia and the Pacific, IUCN – Gland – MacMillan Press Ltd., London – Basingstoke.

Daniels R. J. R. and David P. V. (1996), “The herpetofauna of Great Nicobar Islands,” Cobra, 25, 1 – 4.

Das I. and Chanda K. (1994), “Two snakes new to Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” J. Andaman Sci. Ass., 10(1 – 2), 114 – 115.

Das I. and Wallach V. (1998), “Scolecophidian arboreality revisited,” Herpetol. Rev., 29(1), 15.

Das I. (1994), “A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Andaman and Nicobar islands,” J. Andaman Sci. Ass., 10(1 – 2), 44 – 49.

Das I. (1996), Biogeography of the Reptiles of South Asia, Krieger Publishing Co., Malabar (Florida).

Das I. (1998), “A new species of Boiga (Serpentes: Colubridae) from the Nicobar Archipelago,” J. South Asian Nat. Hist., 3(1), 59 – 67.

Das I. (1999), “Biogeography of the amphibians and reptiles of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” in: Ota H. (ed.), Tropical Island Herpetofauna. Origin, Current Diversity, and Conservation, Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, Developments in Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Issue 29, pp. 43 – 77.

Das I. (2002), A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of India, New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd., London – Cape Town – Sydney – Auckland.

David P. and Ineich I. (1999), “Les serpents venimeux du monde: systématique et répartition,” Dumerilia, 3, 3 – 499.

David P. and Vogel G. (1996), The Snakes of Sumatra. An Annotated Checklist and Key with Natural History Notes, Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt–am–Main.

David P., Vidal N., and Pauwels O. S. G. (2001), “A morphological study of Stejneger’s pitviper Trimeresurus stejnegeri (Serpentes, Viperidae, Crotalinae), with the description of a new species from Thailand,” Russ. J. Herpetol., 8(3), 205 – 222.

Dowling H. G. (1951), “A proposed standard system of counting ventrals in snakes,” Br. J. Herpetol., 1(5), 97 – 99.

Gans C. (1955), “Localities of the herpetological collections made during the ‘Novara Reise’,” Ann. Carnegie Mus., 33, 275 – 285.

Gaulke M., Abel F., Erdelen W., and Fritz U. (1998), “Notes on the herpetofauna of North Sumatra,” Hamadryad, 23(1), 78 – 82.

Ghodke S. and Andrews H. V. (2001a), “Recent record of Cantoria violacea (Girard, 1857) from North and Middle Andaman Islands, India with a note on its bite,” Hamadryad, 26(2), 371 – 373.

Ghodke S. and Andrews H. V. (2001b), “Enhydris plumbea (Boie, 1827) (Serpentes: Colubridae: Homalopsinae): a new record for India,” Hamadryad, 26(2), 373 – 375.

Heyer W. R., Donnelly M. A., McDiarmid R. W., Hayek L.-A. C., and Foster M. S. (eds.) (1994), Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity. Standard Methods for Amphibians, Smithsonian Inst. Press, Washington.

Inger R. F. and Voris H. K. (2001), “The biogeographical relations of the frogs and snakes of Sundaland,” J. Biogeogr., 28, 863 – 891.

Malhotra A. and Thorpe R. S. (2004), “A phylogeny of four mitochondrial gene regions suggests a revised taxonomy for Asian pitvipers (Trimeresurus and Ovophis),” Mol. Phylogen. Evol., 32, 83 – 100.

Regenass U. and Kramer E. (1981), “Zur Systematik der grünen Grubenottern der Gattung Trimeresurus (Serpentes, Crotalidae),” Rev. Suisse Zool., 88(1), 163 – 205.

Rodgers W. A. and Panwar H. S. (1988), Planning a Wildlife Protected Area Network in India. Vol. I. The Report, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun.

Saldanha C. J. (1989), Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep, An Environmental Impact Assessment, Oxford – IBH publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.

SclaterW. L. (1891), “Notes on the collection of snakes in the Indian museum with descriptions of several new species,” J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal., 60(2), 230 – 250, Plate VI.

Scott N. J., Jr. (1994), “Complete species inventories,” in: Heyer R. W., Donnelly M. A., McDiarmid R. W., Hayek L.-A. C., and Foster M. S. (eds.), Measuring and Monitoring Biological Diversity. Standard Methods for Amphibians, Smithsonian Inst. Press, Washington, pp. 78 – 84.

Sharma R. C. (2003), Indian Snakes. Handbook, The Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata.

Smith M. A. (1940), “Contribution to the herpetology of the Andaman and Nicobars Islands,” Proc. Linn. Soc. London, 1940(2), 150 – 158.

Smith M. A. (1943), The Fauna of British India, Ceylon and Burma, including the whole of the Indo-Chinese subregion. Reptilia and Amphibia. Vol. III. Serpentes, Taylor and Francis, London.

Steindachner F. (1867), “Reptilien,” in: Reise der Österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde in den Jahren 1857, 1858, 1859, unter dem Befehln des Commodore B. von Wüllerstorf-Urbair. Zoologischer Theil. Erster Band (Wirbelthiere), Kaiser-König. Hof-u. Staatsdrückerei, Wien, pp. 1 – 98, Plates 1 – 3.

Stoliczka F. (1870), “Observations on some Indian and Malayan Amphibia and Reptilia,” J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, 39(3), 134 – 228, Plates IX – XII.

Stoliczka F. (1873), “Notes on some Andamanese and Nicobarese Reptilia with the description of three new species,” J. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, 41(2), 162 – 169.

Tiwari K. K. and Biswas S. (1973), “Two new reptiles from Great Nicobar Island island,” J. Zool. Soc. India, 25(1 – 2), 57, 63.

Vogel G., David P., and Pauwels O. S. G. (2004), “A review of morphological variation in Trimeresurus popeiorum (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae), with the description of two new species,” Zootaxa, 727, 1 – 63.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.