• First Record of the Poorly Known Skink Sphenomorphus oligolepis (Boulenger, 1914) (Reptilia: Squamata: Scincidae) from Seram Island, Maluku Province, Indonesia

      Mecke, Sven; Kieckbusch, Max; O'Shea, Mark; Kaiser, Hinrich (Asiatic Herpetological Research Society, 2016-03-25)
      Based on four specimens discovered in the collection of The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom, we present a new distribution record for the skink Sphenomorphus oligolepis for Seram Island, Maluku Province, Indonesia. This find constitutes the westernmost record for the species and extends its range by over 800 km. The species was heretofore only known from apparently isolated mainland New Guinean populations.
    • Food spectrum analysis of the Asian toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider, 1799) (Anura: Bufonidae), from Timor Island, Wallacea

      Döring, Britta; Mecke, Sven; Kieckbusch, Max; O’Shea, Mark; Kaiser, Hinrich (Talyor & Francis, 2017-03-20)
      Abstract: The Asian toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider, 1799), is widespread throughout tropical Asia and very abundant where it occurs. It was relatively recently introduced to Timor, the second largest island in the biogeographic region called Wallacea. Timor Island shows an and there are concerns that D. melanostictus may have a negative impact on this diversity, including vertebrates, through direct predation.To evaluate the impact the diet of D. melanostictus might have on the local fauna, gut contents of 83 preserved toad specimens from five habitat types in Timor-Leste, a country occupying the eastern half of Timor Island, were examined. We identified 5581 prey items, comprising the following animal groups: annelids; snails and slugs; spiders and harvestmen; woodlice; millipedes and centipedes; grasshoppers, crickets and earwigs; termites; thrips and true bugs; beetles; ants; hymenopterans other than ants; true flies; butterflies; unidentified insects; and insect larvae. Small eusocial insects (ants and termites) constituted the major part of the diet (61.6% and 23.4%, respectively). No vertebrate prey was recorded. Prey item composition did not differ between habitats. The wide prey spectrum well indicates that D. melanostictus is a generalist invertebrate feeder, as other studies, from regions where this species occurs naturally, have already shown. Although the Asian toad seems to not generally prey on vertebrates, vertebrate species that are morphologically similar to invertebrates in their overall appearance may be consumed. Hence, a negative effect on some taxa (e.g. blindsnakes) may be possible. We also present some limited data on intestinal parasites occurring in D. melanostictus.
    • Foreword: Wallacea - a hotspot of snake diversity

      O'Shea MBE, Mark; Telnov, Dmitry; Barclay, Maxwell VL; Pauwels, Olivier SG; University of Wolverhampton (The Entomological Society of Latvia, 2021)
    • Herpetological Diversity of Timor-Leste: Updates and a Review of Species Distributions

      O'Shea, Mark; Sanchez, Caitlin; Kathriner, Andrew; Mecke, Sven; Carvalho, Venancio Lopes; Ribeiro, Agrivedo Valela; Soares, Zito Afranio; Araujo, Luis Lemos de; Kaiser, Hinrich (Asiatic Herpetological Research Society, 2015-06-15)
      We report the results of five herpetological surveys during 2011–2013 that included visits to all districts of Timor-Leste (Aileu, Ainaro, Baucau, Bobonaro, Dili, Covalima, Ermera, Lautém, Liquiça, Manatuto, Manufahi, Viqueque) except the Oecusse exclave. Our fieldwork culminated in the discovery of one putative new frog species (genus Kaloula), at least five putative new lizard species (genera Cyrtodactylus, Cryptoblepharus, and Sphenomorphus), and two putative new snake species (genera Stegonotus and Indotyphlops). In addition, we present new distribution records of amphibians and reptiles for 11 of the country’s 12 contiguous districts, along with additional natural history data. Results from our surveys increase the number of amphibian and reptiles known to occur in Timor-Leste from 22 species before our surveys began to over 60, including over 20 as yet undescribed species.
    • The taxonomic history of Indo-Papuan groundsnakes, genus Stegonotus Duméril et al., 1854 (Colubridae), with some taxonomic revisions and the designation of a neotype for S. parvus (Meyer, 1874)

      Kaiser, Christine; Kaiser, Hinrich; O'Shea, Mark (Magnolia Press, 2018-07-16)
      Since its conceptualization in 1854, 29 species of the colubrid genus Stegonotus have been recognized or described, of which 15 (admiraltiensis, batjanensis, borneensis, cucullatus, derooijae, diehli, florensis, guentheri, iridis, heterurus, melanolabiatus, modestus, muelleri, parvus, poechi) are still considered valid today. Original species descriptions for the members of this genus were published in Dutch, English, French, German, and Italian and, perhaps as a consequence of these polyglot origins, there has been a considerable amount of confusion over which species names should be applied to which populations of Stegonotus throughout its range across Borneo, the Philippines, Wallacea, New Guinea, Australia, and associated archipelagos. In addition, the terminology used to notate characteristics in the descriptions of these forms was not uniform and may have added to the taxonomic confusion. In this paper, we trace in detail the history of the type specimens, the species, and the synonyms currently associated with the genus Stegonotus and provide a basic, species-specific listing of their characteristics, derived from our examination of over 1500 museum specimens. Based on our data, we are able to limit the distribution of S. modestus to the islands of Ambon, Buru, and Seram in the central Moluccas of Indonesian Wallacea. We correct the type locality of S. cucullatus to the Manokwari area on the Bird’s Head Peninsula of West Papua, Indonesian New Guinea and designate a neotype for S. parvus, a species likely to be a regional endemic in the Schouten Archipelago of Cenderawasih Bay (formerly Geelvink Bay), Indonesian New Guinea. We unequivocally identify and explain the problematic localities of the type specimens of S. muelleri and Lycodon muelleri, which currently reside in the same specimen jar. We remove L. aruensis and L. lividum from the synonymy of S. modestus and recognize them as S. aruensis n. comb. and S. lividus n. comb., respectively. We remove S. keyensis and Zamenophis australis from the synonymy of S. cucullatus and recognize them as S. keyensis n. comb. and S. australis n. comb., respectively. We further remove S. reticulatus from the synonymy of S. cucullatus, S. dorsalis from the synonymy of S. diehli, and S. sutteri from the synonymy of S. florensis. We designate lectotypes for S. guentheri, S. heterurus, S. lividus, and S. reticulatus. Lastly, we introduce S. poechi, a valid species not mentioned in the scientific literature since its description in 1924. This brings the diversity in the genus Stegonotus to 22 species. We also caution that in a complex group of organisms like Stegonotus any rush to taxonomic judgment on the basis of molecular and incomplete morphological data sets may perpetuate errors and introduce incongruities. Only through the careful work of connecting type material with museum specimens and molecular data can the taxonomy and nomenclature of complex taxa be stabilized.