03 July 2011 1 of 2


DILI, DILI DISTRICT, TIMOR-LESTE

 


TIMOR-LESTE REPTILE & AMPHIBIAN SURVEY
PHASE V: SO WHAT HAVE WE ACHIEVED ?

(page 1)

On the wind down for Phase V the final specimens are photographed, processed or released.

But has it all been worth it ?

The team works up final data and specimens. The photographic set next door.

Given the considerable amount of time and resources involved in the type of research we do, it is obviously critical to produce results. Having now completed Phase V of our Amphibian and Reptile Survey of Timor-Leste, was it worth it?

When we set out, we had some clear goals in mind, primarily involving a survey of a region in Lautém District that we had not covered before. Furthermore, we wanted to secure additional specimens of what we consider to be a new species of Bent-toed gecko (genus Cyrtodactylus), which Laca first captured near his home village during the survey for his own project at UNTL. We also wanted to capture additional specimens along the Meleotegi River in Ermera District to add to our relatively sparse material of what may well be a new species of Forest skink (genus Sphenomorphus) and Snake-eyed skink (genus Cryptoblepharus).

Bent-toed gecko, Cyrtodactylus sp.
from Raça
Snake-eyed skink, Cryptoblepharus sp.
from Meleotegi River

For our fieldwork, Timor-Leste has been a charmed country in terms of finding new and exciting things, and it did not disappoint now. During our first survey on the grounds of Com Beach Resort, we realized that some of the house geckos (genera Gehyra and Hemidactylus) were morphologically distinct from what we had found elsewhere. We will have to see what our work-up of the specimens can tell us about how they fit into the existing taxonomic scheme, but there may be a couple of surprises even among so visible a group of organisms. Our visit to Raça, Laca's home village, the following day brought us two more specimens of the Cyrtodactylus from inside a cave, along with what appears to be a different species of Sphenomorphus, characterized by a yellow middorsal stripe. A specimen of an unknown Eremiascincus got away and left us only its tail, but since there is no known medium altitude species of this genus known from eastern Timor-Leste, this may yet turn out to be an exciting discovery. Two days in Lautém, two or three potentially new species—that is already a highly significant result.