To study the diversity and ecology of amphibians and reptilians in Vietnam
First of all, the species and species communities of a natural habitat have to be documented for consecutively understanding their interactions and ecology. And the compilation of the species' specific requirements in turn is the basic prerequisite for their conservation and for the preservation of the wildlife habitat. Cologne Zoo especially focuses on the amphibian and reptilian fauna of Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam, because they serve as suitable bioindicators.
Since 1998, the total number of amphibian and reptile species known from this unique karst forest ecosystem, as a result of own field work, could be brought to more than 140 species, among them many new records and even newly discovered taxa. Five lizard species and five snake species already proved to be new to science, including a new snake genus. However, one is still far away from having the national park's herpetodiversity completely inventoried, which is demonstrated by further new records and even new species discoveries/descriptions being currently processed. The publication of systematic revisions together with the development of updated identification keys should help the ranger as well as the local and higher authorities to adequately deal with the continuously increasing diversity and their respective conservation status. In a second step, ecological research of barely known or endemic amphibian and reptilian taxa will be conducted, to gather data for improving and enforcing further conservation measures. In a third step, especially in times of the global amphibian crisis, research will be invested into in situ amphibian research in Phong Nha – Ke Bang, because the morphology and ecology especially of tadpoles are poorly known and data of ecological requirements and interactions are mostly lacking. By using modern molecular methods the larvae are assigned to adult stages for providing substantial contributions to future works on larval morphology, sibling species complexes and different ecological niche occupations. With the new amphibian breeding section at Cologne Zoo's aquarium the researchers are also prepared for combinations of ex situ breeding and conservation efforts.
WAZA Conservation Project 07011 is implemented by Cologne Zoo with support from WAZA, Kölner Kulturstiftung der Kreissparkasse Köln, BIOPAT, and temporarily EUAC, AKG, AKS and DGHT.
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