Biodiv Sci ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (4): 21326.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021326

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The updated checklist and zoogeographic division of the reptilian fauna of Yunnan Province, China

Kai Wang1,*(), Zhitong Lyu2, Jian Wang2, Shuo Qi2, Jing Che3,*()   

  1. 1 Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma, Norman 73072, USA
    2 School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    3 State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and Evolution & Yunnan Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Ecological Security of Gaoligong Mountain, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650223, China
  • Received:2021-12-18 Accepted:2022-01-20 Online:2022-04-20 Published:2022-01-31
  • Contact: Kai Wang,Jing Che


Aims: Yunnan Province has the richest biodiversity among all administrative regions in China. Therefore, having detailed, updated checklists of different fauna and flora groups of Yunnan are particularly important for the conservation and scientific utilization of biodiversity in China.

Methods: Based on published literatures and examination of relevant specimens in natural history museums in China, we update the checklist of the reptilian fauna of Yunnan. Following the update, we revised the zoogeographic division of reptilian fauna of Yunnan and compiled diversity-related statistics for each zoogeographic region.

Results: As of 31th December, 2021, there are 235 recognized species of reptiles in 82 genera, 25 families, and 2 orders recorded from Yunnan Province of China, including 16 species of Testudines in 12 genera, 4 families, 72 species of Lacertilia in 20 genera, 6 families, and 147 species of Serpentes in 50 genera, 15 families. Comparing to the latest monograph, Amphibia and Reptilia of Yunnan, which was published in 2008, our updated checklist added 82 new records, retained 21 questionable records, and removed records of 23 recognized species from Yunnan. With the revised taxonomy and distribution data of Yunnan’s reptilian fauna, we continued to recognize six zoogeographic regions in Yunnan, namely Northwestern Hengduan Mountains of Yunnan, Western Hills of Yunnan, Southern Hills of Yunnan, Southeastern Hills of Yunnan, Northern and Central Yunnan Plateau, and Northeastern Hills of Yunnan; but we adjusted the ranges for four of these regions, namely Northwestern Hengduan Mountains of Yunnan, Western Hills of Yunnan, Southeastern Hills of Yunnan, and Northern and Central Yunnan Plateau. While the three southern zoogeographic regions have the highest overall diversity, the Northwestern Hengduan Mountains of Yunnan and Central Yunnan Plateau have the highest percentage of endemic species. In total, 13% of the recorded taxa are endemic to Yunnan, 33% of the taxa are only found in Yunnan within China, and 26% of the taxa have been initially described from Yunnan. Taxonomically, Lacertilia constitutes the highest percentage of endemic taxa, which is followed by Serpentes and Testudines. For conservation, about 34% of the assessed reptile species of Yunnan are considered threatened based on China’s Red List of Biodiversity•Vertebrates (Vol. III): Reptiles, and about 16% of the total species of Yunnan still lack conservation assessments. In contrast, only 12% of the recorded species are nationally protected. Of the six zoogeographic regions of Yunnan, the Southern Hills of Yunnan have the highest percentage of threatened species and the highest number of nationally protected species.

Conclusion: The reptilian diversity of Yunnan is still underestimated, and the taxonomy of the recorded species is changing regularly. Taxonomy should continue to be the focus of herpetological studies in the future, and detailed distribution data at higher resolution are needed, preferably to the county level. The percentage of endemic species of Yunnan and the conservation threat of Yunnan’s reptilian fauna are both high. Habitat conservations of endemic species in northwest and central Yunnan warrants particular attention. Lastly, as taxonomy and conservation status of species are changing regularly, and given many threatened species are not currently protected by the List of Wild Animals under Special State Protection, we call for the update of the List of Wild Animals under Special Provincial Protection of Yunnan, so that the overlooked, threatened species and their habitats can have legal protection converge.

Key words: List of Wild Animals under Special Provincial Protection, questionable records, taxonomic revision, updated checklist, wildlife protection law