It turns out that one of the rarest chameleons in the world is sticking to survival –

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Chapman’s Pygmy Chameleon is one of the rarest chameleons in the world and is now sticking to survive in a small forest. Credit: Krystal Tolley

Urgent safeguards are needed to save the endangered chameleon, which is known to be sticking to survive in the Malawi rainforest patch.

Chapman’s Pygmy Chameleon (Kalehakamereka), Growing to a length of only 5 centimeters, was first described in 1992 and is considered to be one of the rarest chameleons in the world.Endangered due to the destruction of native species forest In Malawi Hills, much of it is logged for agriculture.

However, a 2016 study by a team from the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the Malawi Museum published the results for the first time, finding small reptile populations in the surviving forest areas.

They estimate that the number of forests, and along with them, chameleons has shrunk by 80 percent since the 1980s. Genetic (DNA) analysis also suggests that animals are trapped in forest patches and cannot move between animals for breeding. Without this mating, genetic diversity would be lost over time, which poses another serious threat. Race‘Survival.

Research published in Oryx—International Journal of ConservationWas led by Professor Crystal Tory of the South African National Biodiversity Institute and the University of the Witwatersland.

It was her assessment work in 2014 that the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) listed Chapman’s Pygmy Chameleon as endangered. Endangered Red List.. Comparing satellite images of Malawi hills with those taken in the 1980s revealed dramatic deforestation and the area where the chameleon was first mentioned was completely logged. What remained was fragmented — small patches of the forest were separated from each other.

It turns out that one of the rarest chameleons in the world is sticking to survival

Chapman’s Pygmy Chameleon is one of the rarest chameleons in the world and is now sticking to survive in a small forest. Credit: Krystal Tolley

Due to fear of chameleons and possible extinction, Professor Tory and his fellow researchers use the crowdfunding website RocketHub to investigate the remaining patches of the surviving population. I have raised the necessary funds.

Chameleon enthusiasts responded to this call by donating $ 5,670, including a $ 1,000 donation from the Scion Natural Science Association. The researchers were sufficient to investigate the two remaining forest areas in the area 95 km away near Malawi Hill and Mikundi. One of the chameleons was released in 1998 to protect the species.

Chameleons were found in all three locations, and Professor Tory explained the delight of the research team who discovered that the species still existed.

She states: “The first thing I found was a transition zone on the edge of the forest, with some trees, but most of them corn and cassava plants. When I found it, I had goose bumps and started flying around. You’ll get it, but there were a lot of them in the woods, but I don’t know how long it will last. “

Next, samples taken from chameleons were analyzed to see if their genetic diversity was also reduced. This wasn’t clear, but researchers believe it may be because it takes time for such an effect to appear.

They saw evidence that gene flow between fragmented populations was disrupted.Virtually each forest patch It is currently home to a small number of isolated populations and cannot breed with chameleons in adjacent patches. This reduces genetic diversity over time and increases the risk of extinction for the entire species.

It turns out that one of the rarest chameleons in the world is sticking to survival

The lead author, Professor Crystal Tory, is looking for chameleons in the forests of southern Malawi. Credit: Gary Brown

“We need to pay immediate attention to deforestation before this species reaches an irreversible state. Urgent conservation measures such as stopping deforestation and restoring habitats to facilitate connectivity,” said Professor Tory. Is necessary. “

Researchers have decided to include the rest of the forest as part of the nearby Matandwe Forest Reserve, allow it to be declared as a major biodiversity area, and introduce strong measures to ensure its protection. I am proposing. They also recommend a more thorough investigation to monitor chameleon populations. Genetic diversity Call for the involvement of local landowners to protect the Mikundi forest and its population as insurance against the loss of chameleon’s natural range on the Malawi hills.

Overall, they say that a comprehensive and well-funded action plan needs to be developed and enacted to prevent species from becoming extinct.

Professor Tory said, “They are small and gentle creatures. Others chameleon The seeds are hysterical and can swoosh and chew, but the pygmy chameleon is only gentle and beautiful.

“Especially Chapman is one of the smallest and doesn’t have a catchy tail like most chameleons, probably because it’s not particularly arboreal, but it roams the floor. LitterAt night, I
crawl up to the low bushes and sleep. They blend directly into the litter and are a perfect match for dead leaves.

“Mostly brown, but with small dots throughout, which can turn into very beautiful blues and greens. It’s probably a way to communicate with each other, and I could feel it when it vibrated and hugged. We don’t really do that. We know why, but it’s probably some form of communication. The fact that they hold it in our hands and do it scares predators. It may mean that it is a method. “

“I’m sad to think of what’s happening to them and what we’re doing to their habitat. They’re really helpless victims.”


The team discovers three chameleon species


For more information:
Cling to Survive: The endangered Chapman Rhampholeon chapmanorum survives in shrinking forest areas. Orix (2021). DOI: doi.org/10.1017/S0030605320000952

Journal information:
Orix

Quote: One of the rarest chameleons in the world (August 3, 2021) found to be sticking to survival is https: //phys.org/news/2021-08-world-rarest-chameleons- Obtained from survival.html on August 3, 2021

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It turns out that one of the rarest chameleons in the world is sticking to survival

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