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Amphibians and Reptiles of Mainland Southeast Asia

Young Green Tree Viper

A young green tree viper (Viridovipera vogeli) waits to ambush prey in Thua Tien-Hue Province, central Vietnam.

Raoul Bain


A major component of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation's (CBC) work in Mainland Southeast Asia focuses on diversity, distribution, and conservation status of the amphibians (frogs, salamanders, and caecilians), and reptiles (snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles) of Vietnam, Lao PDR (Laos), Cambodia, and Thailand. This enormous and geographically complex area south of China is located in the heart of the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot and harbors an array of some of the world's most spectacular and threatened amphibians and reptiles. Mainland Southeast Asia is home to the southern and eastern-most extensions of the Himalayas, and several unique habitats, including isolated mountain ranges (such as the Annamites and the Cardamoms), and enormous river systems (including the Red and Mekong Rivers), and their associated deltas.

Yunnan spiny frog

The endangered Yunnan spiny frog (Nanorana yunnanensis) is known from China and northern parts of Laos and Vietnam, and is widely sought after for human comsumption.

Raoul Bain


Despite a long history of regional explorations dating back to the early 19th century, a large gap remains in our knowledge of Mainland Southeast Asia's amphibian and reptile species. The regional diversity of these groups is still greatly underestimated and our knowledge of their natural history remains severely limited. Our lack of this basic information is made all the more pressing by the severe threats from human-induced pressures now bearing on the region's amphibians and reptiles. Land use practices have dramatically lowered the amount of forested area, which is increasingly being converted to agricultural areas. The remaining forests are threatened by sophisticated hunting and trading practices, which have decimated local populations and extirpated species from large areas of Indochina. Reptiles comprise the largest portion of all animals found in trade in Vietnam and the regional trade in turtles has reached alarming rates. In addition, amphibians and reptiles have largely been left out of regional conservation decision-making processes in favor of better-known plants and animals.

Red-Webbed Treefrog

The red-webbed treefrog (Rhacophorus rhodopus) is part of a complex of similar-looking species that range across the Eastern Himalayas and Mainland Southeast Asia.

Raoul Bain


Researchers from the CBC, in collaboration with scientists and conservation workers from Asia, Europe, and North America, have surveyed sites throughout Mainland Southeast Asia. This work has yielded descriptions for 17 amphibian (and an additional 10 re-described), and one snake species, as well as over 200 range extensions and novel natural history data for dozens of species. Data from this primary research have been used for major phylogenetic studies by CBC staff and has been made available to research colleagues around the globe. Results have been incorporated into conservation assessments of proposed conservation corridors and protected areas, and have been directly applied to assessing the conservation status of over 650 amphibian and reptile species in the region for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Van Ban District

Beginning a hike into the forest during a joint AMNH-IEBR survey in Van Ban District, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam.

Raoul Bain


CBC researchers are continuing long-term collaborative projects to get a more complete understanding of the dynamics and diversity of amphibian and reptile species in the region. Among these projects is a large biogeographic study that will allow CBC researchers to prioritize threatened amphibian and reptile species and areas within Mainland Southeast Asia. This will directly inform regional conservation managers on how best to focus their resources.

The CBC has been engaged in research in Mainland Southeast Asia since 1997, partnering with the Institute for Ecology and Biological Resources (Hanoi) and dozens of additional international universities and museums as well as non-governmental conservation organizations including the IUCN, World Wildlife Fund (Greater Mekong Programme), Birdlife International (Indochina), Fauna and Flora International (Indochina), the Vietnam Environmental Network, and Wildlife Conservation Society (Lao PDR).

Related Publications
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2001. Geographic distribution.  Amolops cremnobatus.  Herpetological Review  32:269.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2001. Geographic distribution.  Rana chapaensis. Herpetological Review  32:272.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2002. Geographic distribution.  Amolops spinapectoralis.  Herpetological Review  33:61.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2002. Geographic distribution.  Leptolalax tuberosus.  Herpetological Review  33:145.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2002. Geographic distribution.  Ophisaurus sokolovi.  Herpetological Review  33:66.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2002. Geographic distribution.  Rana attigua.  Herpetological Review  33:63.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2002. Geographic distribution.  Rhacophorus exechopygus.  Herpetological Review  33:64.
  • Bain, R.H. and Q. T. Nguyen. 2004. Three new species of narrow-mouth frogs (Genus:  Microhyla ) from Indochina, with comments on Microhyla annamensis.  Copeia  2004:507-524.
  • Bain, R.H. and Q. T. Nguyen. 2004. Herpetofaunal diversity of Ha Giang Province in northeastern Vietnam with descriptions of two new species.  American Museum Novitates 3453:1-42.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q. T. Nguyen. 2005. Geographic distribution.  Huia absita.  Herpetological Review  36:332.
  • Bain, R.H., and Q.T. Nguyen. 2006. Geographic distribution.  Leptobrachium mouhoti.  Herpetological Review  37(3):358
  • Bain, R.H., Q.T. Nguyen, and V.K. Doan. 2007. New herpetofaunal records from Vietnam.  Herpetological Review  38: 107-117.
  • Bain, R.H., Q.T. Nguyen, and V.K. Doan. 2007. Geographic distribution.  Calloselasma rhodostoma. Herpetological Review  38: 102.
  • Bain, R.H., Q.T. Nguyen, and V.K. Doan. 2007. Geographic distribution.  Lyocodon laoensis. Herpetological Review  38: 104.
  • Bain, R. H., and B. L. Stuart. 2005 2006. A new species of cascade frog (Amphibia: Ranidae) from Thailand, with new data on Rana banaorum and Rana morafkai.  The Natural History Bulletin of the Siam Society  53:3-16.
  • Bain, R.H., and B. L. Stuart. 2006. Significant new records of the Junlian odorous frog,  Odorrana junlianensis  Huang, Fei, and Ye, 2001.  Hamadryad. 30:151-156.
  • Bain R.H., B. L. Stuart, and N. L. Orlov. 2006. Three new Indochinese species of cascade frogs (Amphibia: Ranidae) allied to Rana archotaphus.  Copeia 1:43-59.
  • Bain, R.H., A. Lathrop, R.W. Murphy, N.L. Orlov, and C.T. Ho. 2003. Cryptic species of a cascade frog from Southeast Asia: taxonomic revisions and descriptions of six new speciesAmerican Museum Novitates  3417:1-60.
  • BirdLife International in Indochina and MARD. 2004. Tay Con Linh Proposed Nature Reserve. In: Sourcebook of existing and proposed protected areas in Vietnam. 2nd ed. BirdLife International in Indochina and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hanoi.
  • BirdLife International in Indochina and MARD. 2004. Du Gia Proposed Nature Reserve.  Sourcebook of existing and proposed protected areas in Vietnam . 2nd ed. BirdLife International in Indochina and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hanoi.
  • Blanck, Torsten, W.P. McCord, and Le Duc Minh. 2006. On the variability of Cuora trifasciata (Bell, 1825).  Frankfurt Contributions to Natural History , 31:1-153.
  • Böhme, W., T. Schöttler, Q. T. Nguyen, and J. Köhler. 2005. A new species of salamander, genus Tylototriton (Urodela: Salamandridae), from northern Vietnam. Salamandra  41:215-220.
  • Chou, W. H., Q. T. Nguyen, and O. S. G. Pauwells. 2001. A new species of  Takydromus (Reptilia: Lacertidae) from Vietnam. Herpetologica  57:497-508.
  • Dang, H.P. M.K. Hoang, M.H. Le, and Q.T. Nguyen. 2004. Results of the survey on the animal fauna of the Tay Con Linh Mountain area, Ha Giang Province.  Tap Chi Sinh Hoc  26: 21-29. in Vietnamese
  • David, P., R.H. Bain, Q.T. Nguyen, N.L. Orlov, G. Vogel, T.N. Vu, and T. Ziegler. 2007. A new species of the natricine snake genus Amphiesma from the Indochinese Region (Squamata: Colubridae: Natricinae).  Zootaxa  1462: 41-60.
  • Faivovich, J., C. F. B. Haddad, P. C. A. Garcia, D. R. Frost, J. A. Campbell, and W. C. Wheeler. 2005. Systematic review of the frog family Hylidae, with special reference to Hylinae: Phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision.  Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 294, 240 pp.
  • Frost, D.R., T. Grant. J. Faivovich, R. H. Bain, A. Haas, C. F. B. Haddad, R. O. deSa, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S.C. Donnellan, C.J. Raxworthy, J. A. Campbell, B. L. Blotto, R. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. A. Nussbaum, J. D. Lynch, D. M. Green, and W. C. Wheeler. 2006. The amphibian tree of life.  Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 297:1-370.
  • Kuch, U., D. Kizirian, Q. T. Nguyen, R. Lawson, M.A. Donnelly, and D. Mebs. 2005. A new species of Krait (Squamata: Elapidae) from the Red River System of northern Vietnam. Copeia  2005:818-833.
  • Lathrop, A., R. Murphy, N. Orlov, and H. T. Chuc. 1998. Two new species of  Leptolalax  (Anura: Megophryidae) from northern Vietnam.  Amphibia-Reptilia  19:253-267.
  • Le Duc Minh, W.P. McCord, and Le Duc Minh. 2006. On the variability of Cuora trifasciata (Bell, 1825).  Frankfurt Contributions to Natural History, 31:1-153.
  • 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.
  • Nguyen, Q. T. 2005. Herpetological collaboration in Vietnam . In:  Herpetologia Bonnensis II. M. Vences, J. Köhler, T. Ziegler, W. Böhme eds. Proceedings of the 13th Congress of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica. pp. 233-240.
  • Nguyen, Q.T., R. Bain. 2006. An assessment of the herpetofauna of the Green Corridor Forest Landscape, Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam .  Report No 2: Green Corridor Project, WWF Greater Mekong & Vietnam Country Programme and FPD Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam: pp 47.
  • Nguyen Quang Truong and R.H. Bain. 2006. An assessment of the herpetofauna of the Green Corridor Project Area, Thua Thien-Hue Province, Vietnam. World Wildlife Fund, Hue.
  • Nguyen, Q.T., V. K. Doan, and R. H. Bain. 2005. Geographic distribution. Cuora galbinifrons.  Herpetological Review  36:335.
  • Nguyen, Q. T., N. N. Le, and R.H. Bain (2006). Species composition of amphibians (Amphibia) and Reptiles (Reptilia) from Ha Giang Province. Journal of Biology, Hanoi, 28(2): 21-26 (in Vietnamese).
  • Nicodemo, P., and R.H. Bain. 2007. Geographic distribution. Dendrelaphis ngansonensis.  Herpetological Review 38: 355.
  • Orlov, N. L., Q. T. Nguyen, and V. S. Nguyen. 2006. A new  Acanthosaura  allied to  A. capra  Günther, 1861 (Agamidae, Sauria) from Central Vietnam and Southern Laos.  Russian Journal of Herpetology  13:61-76.
  • Sterling, E. J., and M. M. Hurley. 2005. Conserving biodiversity in Vietnam: applying biogeography to conservation research. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences  56: Supplement I(9):90-105.
  • Sterling, E. J., M. M. Hurley, and R. H. Bain. 2003. Vietnam's secret life. Natural History 112:50-59.
  • Sterling, E. J., M. M. Hurley, and D. M. LeDuc. 2006.  Vietnam: A Natural History. New Haven, CT:Yale University Press.
  • Stuart, B. L., and R. H. Bain. 2005. Three new species of spinule-bearing frogs allied to Rana megatympanum Bain, Lathrop, Murphy, Orlov and Ho, 2003 from Laos and Vietnam. Herpetologica  61:478-492.
  • Stuart, B. L., R. F. Inger, and H. K. Voris. 2006. High levels of cryptic species diversity recorded by sympatric lineages of Southeast Asian forest frogs.  Biology Letters.  2: 470-474.
  • Timmins, R. J., and Trinh Viet Cuong. 2001. An assessment of the conservation importance of the Huong Son (Annamite) Forest, Ha Tinh Province, Vietnam, based on the results of a field study for large mammals and birds. Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History, New York.
  • Tordoff, A. W., Tran Hieu Minh, and Tran Quang Ngoc. 2000. A feasability study for the establishment of Ngoc Linh Nature Reserve, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. Birdlife International Vietnam Programme, Hanoi.

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