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Habitat associations and conservation status of an endemic forest dwarf chameleon (Bradypodion sp.) from South Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 April 2006

Walter J. Reisinger
Affiliation:
School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa
Devi M. Stuart-Fox
Affiliation:
School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa
Barend F.N. Erasmus
Affiliation:
School of Animal, Plant & Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa
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Abstract

We quantified habitat associations and evaluated the conservation status of a recently identified, undescribed species of dwarf chameleon, Bradypodion sp. nov. Dhlinza, endemic to scarp forest remnants in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. At the microhabitat scale the Dhlinza dwarf chameleon was found more often in forest gaps and near paths than highly disturbed edges or forest interior. Chameleon presence was not explained by forest physiognomic variables such as vine cover, shrub and tree density, or canopy cover. Presence near gaps may be better explained by the combined effects of the thermal microenvironment and food availability. The species is moderately common where it occurs, with estimated densities of 4.7, 8.7 and 29.7 individuals per ha within forest interior, edges and gaps respectively. At the landscape scale, the chameleon occurs only in three remnant forests: the Dhlinza, Entumeni and Ongoye Forests. The species' extent of occurrence was estimated to be 88 km2 and its area of occupancy 49 km2. Based on the small area of remaining suitable habitat, this species meets the requirements for categorization as Endangered according to IUCN Red List criteria.

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Copyright
© 2006 Fauna & Flora International

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