Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (6): 578-589.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2017194

• Original Papers: Animal Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Reptilian fauna and elevational patterns of the reptile species diversity in Altay Prefecture in Xinjiang, China

Xiaqiu Tao1, Shaopeng Cui2,3, Zhigang Jiang2,3, Hongjun Chu4,5, Na Li2,3, Daode Yang1,*(), Chunwang Li2,3,*()   

  1. 1 Wildlife Protection Research Institute, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 410004
    2 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    4 Altay Management Station of Mt. Kalamaili Ungulate Nature Reserve, Altay, Xinjiang 836500
    5 College of Resources and Environment Science, Xinjiang University, Urumqi 830046
  • Received:2018-05-08 Accepted:2018-05-26 Online:2018-06-20 Published:2018-09-11
  • Contact: Yang Daode,Li Chunwang
  • About author:# Co-first authors


The Altay Prefecture in China, which shares international boundaries with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia, is a special area in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. The diverse landform of this area encompasses mountainous terrain, vast plains and desert lands. We conducted three expeditions from 2014 to 2016 to survey reptiles of the Altay Prefecture. We actively searched for reptiles using spotlighting at night. We collected a total of 392 specimens, which we identified as 16 species belonging to six families of the order Squamata. Combined with previous literature, the number of reptile species in this region is now 23 representing eight families of the order Squamata. All these species belong to the Palearctic ecozone, including 17 mid-Asia species versus six Palearctic species. From the geographical view, this region is a transitional zone between Euro-Siberian and Central-Asiatic regions. Next, we assessed how reptile species diversity correlated with elevation, which corresponded with changes in environmental factors in this region. We found that the Shannon-Wiener diversity index and Simpson dominance index showed a pattern of low-elevation plateaus with a mid-elevation peak, the Pielou evenness index showed a pattern of increasing, and the richness showed a pattern of decreasing. The peak values of Simpson dominance index and Shannon-Wiener diversity index were observed in Group 2 (500-600 m). The Pielou evenness index peaked for Group 15 (1,800-1,900 m), and richness peaked for Group 10 (1,300-1,400 m). The three environmental variables (altitude, annual mean temperature and annual precipitation) only weakly explained the observed patterns of diversity, richness and evenness, but their combined explanatory power was stronger. In fact, the combination of altitude and annual mean temperature best explained the observed patterns in diversity, richness and evenness of reptiles in the Altay Prefecture.

Key words: Altay Prefecture, herpetofauna, elevational pattern, species diversity, environmental variables