1997 North Vietnam Pilot Survey

Survey Team
A brief preliminary study of the herpetofauna of northern Vietnam was carried out in 1997. Pilot survey team members were Dr. Darrel R. Frost and Dr. Christopher J. Raxworthy from the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

Study Sites
Limited collecting was carried out over the course of four weeks in late July and August, 1997, at five widely-spaced localities in northern Vietnam: Tam Dao, Vinh Phu Province; Ba Be National Park, Bac Thai Province; Mt. Fan Si Pan/Sa Pa, Lao Cai and Lai Chu Provinces; Yen Bai, Yen Bai Province; and Hanoi.

The majority of specimens obtained during the 1997 pilot study were hand collected during day and nighttime visual encounter surveys.

A total of 58 species were collected, photographed, and sampled for tissues during the 1997 pilot survey: 22 species and 4 families of amphibians and 36 species and 9 families of reptiles. Specimens were fixed in formalin and then preserved in alcohol. Half of the specimens have been repatriated to the Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources in Hanoi; the other half are currently housed in the collections of the Department of Herpetology at the AMNH.

Given that sampling was limited at all the work sites, an interesting and diverse group of specimens (notably amphibians) was collected at Tam Dao National Park and Mt. Fan Si Pan. Tam Dao National Park is located approximately 85 kilometers northwest of Hanoi. Snake diversity at this site is extremely high, and the Tam Dao mountains contain a number of endemic species, including the salamander Paramesotriton deloustali (seen but not collected). The 1997 survey collected three amphibians endemic to Vietnam at Tam Dao: the Asian toad species Theloderma corticale, the frog species Rana maosonensis, and the tree frog species Leptolalax sungi (a paratype of which is currently housed in the IEBR Zoological Museum).

Mt. Fan Si Pan, located close to the Chinese border, is the highest mountain in Vietnam. Surveyed extensively by the French in the 1940s, it shelters distinct assemblages of species across elevations with strong biotic affinities to northern Vietnam and southern China. One notable result from this survey is a new country record for the earless toad Bufo cryptotympanicus, previously known only from southern China (Liu, et al., 2000). The research team also found an as yet unidentified Paa sp. at Mt. Fan Si Pan. Only six species of this large, edible frog are known from Vietnam, including a Sa Pa endemic. Additionally, three Amolops spp. and two Rana livida complex specimens were collected from these two work sites.

The 1997 pilot survey sampled broadly in the central and northwestern provinces of northern Vietnam. Approximately 14% (3/22) of the amphibians collected were endemic or restricted-range species. Noteworthy findings include the high diversity of amphibian species (including a number of endemics) collected during relatively brief periods spent at Tam Dao National Park and Mt. Fan Si Pan. Taxa collected include a new country record (Bufo cryptotympanicus) and what are thought to be four previously undescribed species. A megophyrid specimen collected at Tam Dao has been designated a paratype for the newly described species Sung's Asian Toad Leptolalax sungi (Lathrop, et al., 1998) and is currently housed at the Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources in Hanoi.

Drawing specific species diversity and conservation conclusions was beyond the scope of this pilot expedition. In general, however, the taxa collected are found throughout the Himalayas and Southeast Asia. The presence of north Vietnamese endemics (Leptolalax sungi and Rana maosonensis) and species indicative of the northeast montane regions of northern Burma, southern China and northern Vietnam (Rhyncophus nuchalis and Rhacophorus verrucosus) indicate both Sino-Himalayan affinities and rich local species diversity. The IUCN-listing of the six turtle species identified during the survey reflects their heavy regional exploitation.

Literature Cited - North Vietnam Pilot Survey 1997
Lathrop, A., R.W. Murphy, N. Orlov, and Cuc Thu Ho. 1998. Two new species of Leptolalax (Anura: Megophryidae) from northern Vietnam. Amphibia-Reptilia, 19:253-267.

Liu, W., A. Lathrop, J. Fu, D. Yang, and R.W. Murphy. 2000. Phylogeny of East Asian bufonids inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences (Anura: Amphibia). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 14:423-435.


For a list of species identifications, localities collected, and conservation status from the pilot 1997 amphibian and reptile inventory in northern Vietnam, please go to the 1997 Herpetofauna Inventory.


Amphibians and Reptiles Recorded During the 1997 CBC-AMNH/IEBR Pilot Survey

Locality Key
1: Tam Dao, Vinh Phu Province, Vietnam
2: Ba Be National Park, Bac Thai Province, Vietnam
3: Yen Bai, Yen Bai Province, Vietnam
4: Mt. Fan Si Pan/Sa Pa, Lao Cai and Lai Chau Provinces, Vietnam
5: Hanoi, Vietnam
*: locality unknown
Species Common Name Locality Status (see citations 1-2) Distribution (see citations 3-34)
Order: Testudines        
Family: Emydidae        
Cistoclemmys galbinofrons Indochinese Box Turtle * Critically Endangered (CITES
 Appendix II)
China, Vietnam
Geomyda spengleri Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle * Endangered China, Indochina, Japan
Pyxidea mouhoutti Keeled Box Turtle * Endangered S China, Vietnam to Assam India
Sacalia quadriocellata Four-Eyed Turtle * Endangered SE China, Vietnam
Family: Trionychidae        
Amyda cartilaginea Asiatic Softshell Turtle * Vulnerable S Myanmar, Vietnam
Pelodiscus sinensis Chinese Softshell Turtle * Vulnerable Russia, E Asia, Vietnam
Order: Sauria        
Family: Agamidae        
Acanthosaura lepidogaster Green Pricklenape Lizard 1, 2, 3   SE Asia
Calotes emma Thailand Bloodsucker Lizard 2   SE Asia
Calotes sp. Bloodsucker Lizard species 2   SE Asia
Family: Gekkonidae        
Gekko chinensis Gray's Chinese Gecko 3   S China, Vietnam
Gekko gecko Tokay Gecko 2   SE Asia
Gekko palmatus Palm Gecko 3   China, Vietnam
Hemidactylus frenatus Common House Gecko     E, SE Asia, Indo-Australian Archipelago
Hemidactylus garnotii Indopacific Gecko 2   Himalaya, E, SE Asia
Hemiphyllodactylus typus Indopacific Tree Gecko 4   E, SE Asia, Indo-Australian Archipelago
Family: Scincidae        
Mabuya sp. Mabuya Skink species 5   Genus widely distributed in Old & New World
Sphenomorphus indicus Formosa Ground Skink 2   S China, Indochina, Malay Peninsula
Order: : Serpentes        
Family: Typhlopidae        
Ramphotyphlops sp. Common Blind Snake species 1   E, SE Asia, Indo-Australian Archipelago
Family: Xenopeltidae        
Xenopeltis unicolor Sunbeam Snake 3   E, SE Asia
Family: Colubridae        
Boiga cynodon Mangrove Snake *   pan-Old World distribution
Cyclophiops major South China Green Snake *   S China, N Vietnam
Dendrelaphis pictus Gmelin's Bronzeback 1, 2   E, SE Asia
Dinodon flavozonatum Big-Toothed Snake *   Myanmar, China, Vietnam
Elaphe porphyracea Black-Banded Trinket Snake 1   Himalaya, SE Asia
Elaphe prasina Green Trinket Snake 1   India, China, Indochina
Elaphe radiata Radiated Rat Snake 3   Himalaya, E, SE Asia
Elaphe taeniura Taiwan Beauty Snake *   Himalaya, E, SE Asia
Enhydris chinensis Chinese Water Snake *   E, S China, N Vietnam
Enhydris plumbea Yellow Belly Water Snake 2   China, Indochina
Lycodon fasciatus Banded Wolf Snake *   Himalaya, Indochina
Pareas hamptoni Hampton's Slug Snake 4   China, Indochina
Pseudoxenodon macrops Big-Eyed Bamboo Snake 4, *   Himalaya, SE Asia
Ptyas korros Indian Rat Snake 2, *   E, SE Asia
Rhabdophis nuchalis Hubei Keelback Snake 4   Myanmar, S China, N Vietnam
Rhabdophis sp. Keelback Snake species 1   Asia
Rhyncophus boulengeri Boulenger's Vine Snake *   China, N Vietnam
Sibynophis collaris Common Many Tooth Snake 2   Himalaya, S China, Indochina
Family: Elapidae        
Bungarus fasciatus Banded Krait *   Himalaya, E, S China, SE Asia
Order: Anura        
Family: Bufonidae        
Bufo cryptotympanicus  Earless Toad   Known Range Restricted: S China, N Vietnam
Bufo melanostictus Black-Spined Toad 1   pan-SE Asian distribution
Family: Megophryidae        
Leptolalax pelodytoides Thao Asian Toad 4   Myanmar, S China, Indochina, Hong Kong
Leptolalax sungi Sung's Asian Toad 1   Known Range Restricted: Vietnam
Megophrys lateralis Anderson's Spadefoot Toad 1   Bangladesh, NE Myanmar, China, Vietnam
Family: Ranidae        
Amolops chapaensis Vietnam Sucker Frog 4   Known Range Restricted: S China, N Vietnam
Amolops ricketti Chinese Sucker Frog 1   China, N Indochina
Amolops sp. Sucker Frog species 4   Himalaya, S China, Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia
Hoplobatrachus rugulosus
Wrinkled Frog     E, SE Asia
Limnonectes kuhlii complex Kuhl's Frog 1   pan-SE Asian distribution
Limnonectes limnocharis
Boie's Wart Frog 1, 2, 3, 4   pan-SE Asian distribution
Paa sp. Paa Frog species 4   Himalaya, S China, N Indochina
Rana cf. andersonii   2   N Myanmar, S China, N Vietnam
Rana guentheri Guenther's Amoy Frog 2   S China, N Vietnam
Rana livida complex Green Cascade Frog 4   India, China, Indochina
Rana livida complex Green Cascade Frog 1   India, China, Indochina
Rana maosonensis Mao-Son Frog 1   Known Range Restricted: N Vietnam
Family: Rhacophoridae        
Polypedates leucomystax
Java Whipping Frog 1   Himalaya, S China, Indochina, Indo-Malay Archipelago
Rhacophorus verrucosus
  1   Known Range Restricted: S China, N Vietnam
Theloderma corticale Tonkin Bug-eyed Frog 1   Known Range Restricted: Vietnam
Theloderma gordoni Gordon's Bug-eyed Frog 1   N Thailand, Vietnam


Literature Cited - Amphibians and Reptiles Recorded During the 1997 CBC-AMNH/IEBR Pilot Survey
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16. Lathrop, A., R.W. Murphy, N. Orlov, and Ho Thu Chuc. 1998. Two new species of Leptobrachium (Anura: Megophryidae) from the Central Highlands of Vietnam with a redescription of Leptobrachium chapaense. Russian Journal of Herpetology, 5:51-60.

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