Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pastilla ruhuna


Binomial Name: Pastilla ruhuna

Pastilla ruhuna Ng & Tay, 2001 is an endemic species of freshwater crabs belongs to the monotypic genus of Pastilla. Population of this species is restricted to the southeastern wet zone of Sri Lanka. Also they live in burrows dug by them in the wet soil. According to IUCN Red list, it is in the category of ‘Endangered’ and conservation actions have to be taken to guarantee the future existence of this rare species.

Referances:
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm) 2015-4 - http://www.iucnredlist.org
  • Identification guide provided by - Sameera Akmeemana

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Mittermeier's shrub frog (Pseudophilautus mittermeieri)

English: Mittermeier's shrub frog
Binomial: Pseudophilautus mittermeieri
Sinhala: මිටර්මයර්ගේ පඳුරු මැඩියා

Mittermeier's shrub frog is an endemic species of shrub frogs restricted to the lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka. According to the original description, they have been observed in Kottawa and Beraliya Forest, in Elpitiya at the elevation levels of 60m and 150m. This species is morphologically more similar to Pseudophilautus decoris and phylogenetic analysis also shows that they are more related. But the population of P. decoris has been restricted to the Rakwana mountains with a higher elevation level compared to the habitat of Pseudophilautus mittermeieri(Meegaskumbura and Manamendra-Arachchi 2005). 
Above photographed ones were observed in Gilimale and Makandawa (Kithulgala) wet zone rain forests that fall in to the same elevation range(60m-150m). They were observed on shrubs of the closed forest. IUCN red list status of the species is endangered (EN).

Referances:
  • Meegaskumbura, Madhava, and Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi 2005 Description of Eight New Species of Shrub Frogs (Ranidae: Rhacophorinae: Philautus) from Sri Lanka. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 12: 305–338.
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm) 2015-4 - http://www.iucnredlist.org
  • Manamendra-Arachchi, K. & R. Pethiyagoda (2006): Sri Lankan amphibians [in Sinhala]. – WHT Publications, Colombo

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Angraecum zeylanicum



Angraecum zeylanicum is a wild orchid found on tree trunks of lowland wet zone of Sri Lanka.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Highland Hump-nosed Pit Viper (Hypnale nepa)


English: Highland Hump-nosed Pit Viper
Binomial: Hypnale nepa 
Sinhala: කදුකර මූකලන් තෙලිස්සා

Hypnale nepa is a venomous pitviper species endemic to Sri Lanka. Based on the taxonomic revisions done so far, have stated that there are four species that belong to the genus Hypnale which live in Sri Lanka (Including possibly new species Hypnale sp. ‘amal’). Among them, population of H. nepa has been restricted to the highlands. At a glance, morphologically all these four species look similar. But with a closer look, H. nepa can be easily distinguished from its congeners using attributes like mentioned in the above named photograph.

This species is more active at night and they mostly live under the logs, rocks and in the leaf litter. Also they have been observed both in disturbed and undisturbed forests. It has been found that this species feeds on other snakes(Aspidura sp.), skinks, soft-shelled eggs and frogs (Maduwage et al. 2009).
Venom of this genus mainly causes local envenoming, coagulopathy and acute renal failure. H. nepa has the least toxicity among the studied three species of Hypnale with the LD50 value of 9.5 μg protein/g. Currently it is in the category of ‘Mildly venomous’ and so far no deaths have been reported due to envenomation (Silva et al. 2012).
Above photographed specimen was found at Dothalugala area in the Knuckles region. Observed place was an undisturbed montane forest. Elevation above the sea level of that location was about 1282m and that falls in the same elevation range (1250-1850m) of H. nepa’ s distribution mentioned in the research paper published by Dr. Kalana Maduwage and others (Maduwage et al. 2009). In the IUCN Red List it is in the category of ‘Least concern’. But necessary actions have to taken to make sure the future existence of the species.

References:
  • Silva, Anjana, Panduka Gunawardena, Danister Weilgama, Kalana Maduwage, and Indika Gawarammana 2012 Comparative in-Vivo Toxicity of Venoms from South Asian Hump-Nosed Pit Vipers (Viperidae: Crotalinae: Hypnale). BMC Research Notes 5(1): 471.
  • Maduwage, Kalana, Anjana Silva, Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi, and Rohan Pethiyagoda 2009 A Taxonomic Revision of the South Asian Hump-Nosed Pit Vipers (Squamata: Viperidae: Hypnale). Zootaxa 2232: 1–28.
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm) 2015-4 - http://www.iucnredlist.org

Friday, January 6, 2017

Stuart's shrub frog ( Pseudophilautus stuarti)

Color of this one has been changed to match with the leaf litter.
English: Stuart's shrub frog
Binomial: Pseudophilautus stuarti
Sinhala: ස්ටුවර්ට්ගේ පඳුරු මැඩියා

Philautus stuarti is an endemic species of amphibian restricted to the knuckles region of Sri Lanka. This species was first described from the Coberts Gap region of knuckles by Dr. Meegaskumbura and Mr. Kelum Manamendra-Archchi in 2005. Elevation above the sea level of their observed location was about 1245m (Meegaskumbura and Manamendra-Arachchi 2005).

This species occurs in cloud forests with a good canopy cover. There is a similar species of amphibian which lives in the same knuckles region, namely Pseudophilautus mooreorum with the same body color. But P. stuarti can be easily distinguished from P. mooreorum by the prominent supratympanic fold and sharp cathal edge.
In addition to that, a population of shrub frogs named Pseudophilautus viridis which is morphologically more similar to P. stuarti occurs in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Phylogenetic analyses have revealed that these both species are genetically more related to each other. These two populations have been geographically separated by Mahaweli River valley that separates central hills from the knuckles mountain region(Meegaskumbura and Manamendra-Arachchi 2005). It is believed that this long term geographical separation has led to common ancestor species of frogs to divide into two geographical groups and then to evolve them as two new separate species namely P. viridis and P. stuarti.

Above photographed ones were also observed in the adjoining forest of Deanston Conservation Center in the knuckles region which is about 4 km away from the Coberts Gap. Observed location was at a height of about 1320m above the sea level. We can believe that the reminding conserved forest segments of knuckles region provides some protection for the species. But due to the limited distribution, it falls in to the category of ‘Endangered’ in the IUCN Red List.

Referances:
  • Meegaskumbura, Madhava, and Kelum Manamendra-Arachchi 2005 Description of Eight New Species of Shrub Frogs (Ranidae: Rhacophorinae: Philautus) from Sri Lanka. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 12: 305–338.
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm) 2015-4 - http://www.iucnredlist.org
  • Manamendra-Arachchi, K. & R. Pethiyagoda (2006): Sri Lankan amphibians [in Sinhala]. – WHT Publications, Colombo

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Half-webbed Pug-snout Frog (Uperodon palmatus)



English: Half-webbed Pug-snout Frog
Binomial: Uperodon palmatus/Ramanella palmata
Sinhala: පාකර්ගේ මොට හොඹු මැඩියා[Pakerge mota hombu madiya]

Half-webbed Pug-snout Frog is an endemic species of frogs restricted to the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Above photographed specimen was found close to a forest in Nuwaraeliya district and the elevation above sea level of the location was about 1894m. It is considered to be a rare species due to the limited distribution of the population. This frog is morphologically more similar to Uperodon obscurus. But the differences in webbed feet can be used to distinguish one form other.

Currently limited researches have been done related to the breeding biology of this species. According to those researches, Mr. Anaslem de Silva has reported that he has observed the tadpoles of this frog in phytothelms in Horton National Park (de Silva, 1999). In addition to that in a research done by Dr. Kanishka Ukuwela and others have reported that they have observed the tadpoles of this frog in rock pools close to a stream in Seetha Eliya(Ukuwela, Silva, and Athukorala 2010).

IUCN Red List status of this amphibian is 'Endangerd'. Agricultural activities, logging, forest dieback and droughts can be regarded as major threats for the species.

References:
  • De Silva, Anselm. 1999. The habitat preferences and the status of amphibians and reptiles at Horton Plains National Park. Report, Zoological Survey of Sri Lanka. National Science Foundation, Colombo. 67 pp.
  • Ukuwela, K. D. B., E. I. L. Silva, and N. P. Athukorala 2010 The Tadpole of Ramanella Palmata (Anura: Microhylidae), a Frog Endemic to Sri Lanka. Zootaxa 2628: 63–65.
  • The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm) 2015-4 - http://www.iucnredlist.org
  • Manamendra-Arachchi, K. & R. Pethiyagoda (2006): Sri Lankan amphibians [in Sinhala]. – WHT Publications, Colombo

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Conchidium braccatum/Eria braccata


Binomial Name: Conchidium braccatum/Eria braccata

Conchidium braccatum is a wild orchid found in highlands of Sri Lanka and in India. Above photographs were taken at "Sri Pada" Peak Wilderness sanctuary in August.