Bradypodion taeniabronchum 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Chamaeleonidae

Scientific Name: Bradypodion taeniabronchum (A. Smith, 1831)
Common Name(s):
English Elandsberg Dwarf Chameleon, Smith's Dwarf Chameleon
Bradypodion pumilum ssp. taeniabronchum A. Smith, 1831
Chaemelio taeniabronchus A. Smith, 1831 [orth. error]
Chamaeleo taeniabronchus A. Smith, 1831
Taxonomic Notes: At the time of its South African Red Listing (Branch 1988), this species was known from only one small area on Lady’s Slipper, a peak in the Elandsberg Mountains. Subsequent surveys have revealed that it occurs widely in the fynbos vegetation of the Elandsberg (Tolley and Burger 2004, Tolley et al. 2006). In 1992, a population was discovered on the Kareedouw Mountains (Burger and Smith 1992) but the taxonomic status of this population was uncertain (Tolley and Burger 2004). A detailed genetic study has revealed that this population and the Elandsberg one represent separate genetic lineages, each of which has Bradypodion ventrale as its closest extant relative (Tolley et al. 2006). However, this latter study could not show conclusively that the two populations are separate species and, because they are morphologically indistinguishable, they are currently treated as two distinct populations of a single species.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ac(iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2013-05-16
Assessor(s): Tolley, K.
Reviewer(s): Bauer, A.
Contributor(s): De Silva, R., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Milligan, H.T., Powney, G., Sears, J., Wearn, O.R., Wilson, P., Wren, S. & Zamin, T.
This species has a small area of occupancy (AOO = 400 km2) (less than the Endangered threshold) and is known from only three locations [B2a]. It is at risk due to large fluctuations in the number of mature individuals from burning (both controlled and natural) of fire-prone fynbos [B2c(iv)]. One location (Elandsberg) is fragmented, particularly near Longmore Plantation. The second location (Kareerdouw Mountains) is less fragmented and under protection by South African National Parks, but requires management of alien invasive plants. The third location has only recent been discovered (in 2009) and little is known about the extent or size of this subpopulation. In addition, climate model projections using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change A2 and B2 scenarios (Houniet 2008) suggest that this species could suffer up to a 40% loss in climatically suitable habitat in the next century. It has been extirpated in totally transformed parts of its range (e.g. Schoenmakerskop).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Endemic to the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Found only in two disjunct mountain ranges, the Elandsberg (including the Vanstadensberg block) and the Kareedouw Mountains, and in a single wetland near Cape St. Francis. Some historical records suggest that the species previously inhabited suitable areas outside these known sites, e.g. "Schoenmakerskop" in Port Elizabeth and Vanstadens Wildflower Reserve near Port Elizabeth (Tolley and Burger 2004). The species now appears to be absent from both these localities. Schoenmakerskop was previously vegetated with fynbos, but is now completely transformed. A recent survey of Vanstadens Wildflower Reserve produced no new records of this species (Tolley and Burger 2004).
Countries occurrence:
South Africa (Eastern Cape Province)
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:400Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO):No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2:5850
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO):No
Number of Locations:3
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:No information on population size or trends is currently available.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Unknown
Extreme fluctuations:YesPopulation severely fragmented:No
No. of subpopulations:3
All individuals in one subpopulation:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Montane fynbos, especially on mountain slopes at high altitude (Tolley and Burger 2007). A new population was discovered in 2009 in a wetland near Cape St Francis. The species is not found in intervening lowland fynbos or other vegetation types. It is not limited to Protea stands as was previously thought (Branch 1988), but is often found on restios, ericas and Asteraceae.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Generation Length (years):3-4

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: No known trade in this species and no recorded CITES exports (CITES 2013).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Some managed areas are under burn rotations for fynbos regeneration. Burn rotations on Longmore property are regimented and take into account the dispersal and re-colonisation potential (or lack thereof) of the chameleons, but such consideration is uncommon. Most of the remaining habitat in the Elandsberg is under provincial protection and burn rotations do not take chameleons into account. The number of locations is low and an uncontrolled fire could potentially decimate a large proportion of mature individuals. In 2005 an entire location (22,000 ha of pine and fynbos) was burned by two wildfires on subsequent days, leaving only small patches of vegetation surviving in ravines (K. Kirkman pers. comm.). The full effects of this fire on the chameleon population have not yet been assessed, although a brief survey in 2008 established that chameleons are present at the Van Stadensberg Natural Heritage Site in the Elandsberg (K.A. Tolley pers. obs.). Because each location has a unique genetic lineage (Tolley et al. 2006), the threat of natural or controlled fire is amplified.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Restrict further habitat encroachment in protected areas and on private lands. Take every opportunity to reclaim natural veld, but actively manage reclaimed areas. This should include the removal of invasive plants and regular control of encroachment. In areas where controlled burns are necessary for the maintenance of the fire-prone fynbos vegetation, limit the burn rotation to blocks that are as small as possible. Do not burn alternate blocks at intervals of less than four years, to allow for maturation of the veld and recolonisation by chameleons (this particular fire rotation scheme is in place in fynbos habitat at Longmore Plantation). Another strategy at Longmore is to encourage fynbos growth in newly-planted pine compartments, until the fynbos is gradually shaded out by growing pines. This is done by strip-spraying with herbicides around the young trees, rather than blanket-spraying of the entire compartment (the latter would kill fynbos and promote grasses). For a period of approximately five years, the compartment comprises a mixture of fynbos and young pines. This practice could allow for additional temporary habitat for chameleons as compartments are rotated. Formulate a Biodiversity Management Plan that includes a plan for research and conservation actions.

Citation: Tolley, K. 2017. Bradypodion taeniabronchum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T3023A110305197. . Downloaded on 22 October 2017.
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