Biodiv Sci ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (5): 578-587.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2015354

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Exploring the status and causes of China’s threatened reptiles through the red list assessment

Bo Cai1,2(), Jiatang Li1, Yueying Chen1, Yuezhao Wang1,*   

  1. 1 Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2015-12-14 Accepted:2016-03-22 Online:2016-05-20 Published:2018-08-09
  • Contact: Wang Yuezhao


This study investigated the living status of reptile species in China. Based on surveys and revised IUCN criterion (Version 3.1), we evaluated the endangerment status and completed China’s Biodiversity Red List, Volume of Vertebrates. The reptiles assessed included 3 orders, 32 families, 133 genera and 461 species, in which Crocodylia contains 3 families, 3 genera and 3 species, Testudines contains 6 families, 18 genera and 34 species, Lacertilia in Squamata contains 10 families, 41 genera and 188 species, and Serpentes in Squamata contains 13 families, 71 genera and 236 species. The study identified 2 species as Regionally Extinction (RE), 34 species as Critically Endangered (CR), 37 species as Endangered (EN), 66 species as Vulnerable (VU), 78 species as Near Threatened (NT), 175 species were identified as of Least Concern (LC) and 69 species as Data Deficient (DD). The threatened species (including CR, EN and VU) in reptile taxa are listed as follows: Testudines contained 31 species, Lacertilia in Squamata contained 38 species, Serpentes in Squamata contained 67 species, and Crocodylia contained 1 species. In China, threatened reptiles totaled 137 species, which accounted for 29.72% of reptiles in China (461 species), which is higher than that of the global assessment of the 2014 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (13.61%). Of the 137 threatened species, Crocodylia and Testudines were the two most endangered groups (covering 100% and 91.18%, respectively), followed by Serpentes in Squamata with 28.39%, and Lacertilia in Squamata (20.21%) was the least endangered. There were 39 species of endemic reptiles in China identified as endangered, which were 27.27% and 28.47% of the total number of reptiles endemic to China (143) and endangered species (137), respectively. The most endangered species were distributed in the southwestern and southern regions of China. The main threats to species survival: habitat destruction and fragmentation, overuse and the heavy pollution, and climate change. Given the uniqueness and diversity of Chinese reptile fauna, the complexity of topography and geomorphology, and the imbalance of the development of social economy, we suggest that the whole society should act to protect endangered reptiles, especially endemic and critically endangered species, which is one of the most important tasks of biodiversity conservation in China.

Key words: Reptilia, endangered, biodiversity, conservation, threats, assessment