Living under the risk of extinction: population status and conservation needs assessment of a micro–endemic tiger gecko in Vietnam
Living under the risk of extinction: population status and conservation needs assessment of a micro–endemic tiger gecko in Vietnam. Human impact is considered the major threat to the global decline of biodiversity, especially for threatened endemic species in karst ecosystems. Studies assessing a species' demography based on temporal and spatial indicators of population size, density and structure are expected to evaluate the level of impact of threats and are therefore becoming increasingly important for species conservation efforts. Goniurosaurus huuliensis, an endemic species in Vietnam, is one of the most threatened reptiles in the world. This karst–adapted species is classified by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered and listed under CITES Appendix II due to habitat loss and over–exploitation for the international pet trade. Here we provide the first evaluation of the population status of G. huuliensis. We applied a 'capture mark–recapture' method to estimate the population size and identify the population density and structure. The total population size was estimated to comprise a maximum of 1,447 individuals in integrated suitable habitats, possibly reaching up to 2,855 individuals exclusively in karst habitats within the total extension of occurrence. This is exceedingly lower than the threshold for a minimum viable population. Furthermore, G. huuliensis is documented to occur in extremely small mean population densities of only 6.4 indiv./km and 2.5 indiv./km/day along the surveyed transects. Based on the demographic information, the ongoing severe human impact (e.g. wildlife exploitation and limestone quarrying) is driving G. huuliensis to the brink of extinction. In situ conservation measures are therefore urgently required. We recommend that in-situ actions should be increased, and a plan should be developed to establish a species and habitat conservation area for G. huuliensis.