THE REPTILES OF THE DALBY DISTRICT AND ADJACENT PARTS OF THE DARLING DOWNS (QUEENSLAND - AUSTRALIA).
BY RAYMOND HOSER (1) and JOHN SCANLON (2)
(1) 41 Village Avenue, Doncaster, Victoria,
(2) 4 Bellambi Street, Northbridge, New South Wales, 2063, Australia
Originally Published In The Journal Of The Northern Ohio
Association Of Herpetologists
(J. NOAH), 16 (1), 1994, pp. 21-30.
The Dalby district, to the west of Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia, (lat 27c'17', long 151'15') is an interesting area to base a herpetological survey and evaluation for the following reasons:
(1) This region represents a transitional zone between several habitats and climatic regions. It lies between inland plains and coastal ranges, and is located between the well-watered coast and the more arid inland (Fig. 1). Also, this area lies on the boundary between tropical northern Australia and temperate southern Australia. The natural vegetation of the region reflects local topographical, climatic and other. features, and consequently ranges from flat open woodland and grassland in the west to hilly, heavily tirnbered forests in the coast. The original herpetofauna of the region would have contained some species adaptable to almost all habitats originally present and other species highly restricted as to the type of habitat they could inhabit.
(2) The habitat of much of this region has been drastically altered by human activities over the last hundred and fifty years, although little major habitat alteration has occurred on a wide scale in the last thirty years. Much of this area is intensively farmed, being the center of the fertile Darling Downs region. The herpetofauna of this region present today must have been able to survive the habitat alteration by humans, and as relatively little significant habitat alteration has occurred in this region in recent years, it is likely that reptiles and most other wildlife present have attained a fairly stable equilibrium level in their populations and species composition. These new population levels would certainly differ from those originally present. Obviously the species most adaptable to the new habitats present would be more abundant at the expense of those species which were less adaptable.
(3) Because of the different types of habitats present in close proximity to one another, one can attempt to evaluate which species have relatively restricted habitat requirements and which species have less specialized requirements. From this, one can take conservation measures if necessary to protect a particular habitat type in order to conserve a particular species should that species or habitat become threatened.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The following is a survey of the reptiles present in the Dalby district, with relevant comments for each species. No formal evaluation of the status of each species in this district has been undertaken due to the lack of comprehensive or detailed information obtained by this survey. The information in this survey is based on:
(1) Three field trips by the authors in this district, each of roughly one week duration in May, August and December 1978.
(2) Verbal communication with local inhabitants and with other herpetologists who have performed field work in this district.
(3) Literature references (Cogger, 1992).
Chelodina longicollis and C. expansa are both present in water ways throughout the area, alongside Emydura macquari and possibly E. kreffti. C. longicollis (Fig. 2) is by far the most common species of turtle through out the area.
Diplodactylus steindachneri and D. tessellatus probably occur in the savannah woodland west of Dalby in areas such as Moonie. D taenicauda would be present in wooded areas although none were found during our survey, indicating that this species may not be common.
D. vittattus was observed west of Dalby, sheltering under isolated rocks and other ground cover. D. williamsi occurs in wooded areas.
Gehyra variegata is a very common gecko in the area, sheltering under bark on standing or fallen trees and other cover. Some Gehyra populations probably fall within definitions of G. austratis and G. punctata
Another common species is Heteronotia binoei found under rocks and other cover in open woodland habitats.
Oedura robusta is found throughout the district, usually occurring singly or in pairs under bark or in rock crevices. 0. monolis is found in similar habitats, bitt appears more restricted to the ranges and foothills to the cast. 0. monilis is found mainly in the west of the district, usually sheltering under bark on trees.
Underwoodisaurus mili occurs in large colonies in scattered rocky areas throughout the district.
Delma tincta is quite common in this area in varied habitats. Individuals with and without dark head markings are present. D . inornata and D. plebeia may also occur.
Pygopus nigriceps and P. lepidopodus both occur in the district, with P. nigriceps being more common in the west and P. lepidopodus occurring only in the east.
Lialis burtonis ( Fig. 3) occurs throughout the district.
Pogona barbata is common. It occurs in most habitats in the district, and is often found basking on roads and fence posts.
Amphibolorus nobbi may also occur in the region.
Chlamydosaurus kingii probably occurs in the district although it would be extremely rare and/or in isolated populations only.
Physignathus lesueuri would occur in the eastern part of the district around watercourses.
Anomalopus lentiginosus is quite common in savannah or scierophyll forests, under rocks or logs; some populations may be classified as Anomalopus verrauxii.
Carlia pectoralis is a very common skink. it is usually active by day, foraging on the ground in savannah woodland. C. vivax may also occur.
Cryptobleplarus virgatus is common in the Bunya Mountains and the adjacent foothills. It is often seen active by day on trees and stumps. Other Cryptoblepbarus species probably also occur in the district. Ctenotus robustus is a fairly common species throughout the district, particularly in open hilly areas north of Dalby where it is found underneath well embedded rocks. C. taeniolatus occurs throughout the district.
Egernia striolata (Fig. 4) is found throughout the district often in small colonies using rocks or tree bark as cover. E. saxtilis may occur in the ranges in die cast of the district, such as the Bunya Mountains. E. modesta occurs in scattered pockets in rocky parts of the district. Egernia rugosa occurs in the open woodland areas, having been recorded north of Dalby near Bell and Kaimkillenbun.
Lerista muelleri is commonly found under well-embedded logs and stumps, most often in savannah woodland.
Lygisurus timlowi might occur in the district although none were recorded.
Morethia boulengeri is another very common skink, being found active on the ground in open woodland or sheltering under rock, bark, etc.
Eremiascincus fasciolatus is present but apparently uncommon. One individual was found under a rock adjacent to a road between Moonie and Dalby in forested country.
Eulamprus quoyii occurs in the district along certain watercourses.
Tiliqua scincoides (Fig. 5) has been found in burrows under large boulders in granite country, and presumably occurs throughout the district.
Trachydosaurus rugosus (Fig. 6) is common in savannah habitats west of Dalby.
Varanus varius (Fig. 7) occurs throughout the area, with both the normal dark form and broadly banded inland form being recorded. This species is most common along water courses. V. gouldii occurs in sandy localities in the west of the district.
Ramphotyphlops wiedii is the most conunon species in rocky areas north-east of Dalby. Six .specimens were found curled up together underneath one rock. R. ligatus is the most conunon species throughout the other parts of the district being found in all types of habitats including the rocky areas of the northeast. The Dalby district also lies within the range of R. proximus, R. broomi, R. bituberculatus and R. unguirostris, although none of these species were recorded during our survey.
Liasis maculosus is the more common python in the immediate vicinity of Dalby. It is particularly common in the rocky granite foothills of the Bunya Mountains.
Morelia spilota macropsila (Fig. 8) occurs throughout the district, but is only common in the Bunya Mountains and similar types of habitat.
Dendrelaphis punctulatus may occur in the area, although this species was not recorded.
Acanthophis antarcticus (Fig. 9) is reported to be common in the heavily wooded areas to the south west of Dalby towards Moonie, where a distinctive "green" form occurs.
Demansia psammophis was found to be very common in granite areas around Kaimkillenbun, and probably occurs throughout the district. D. torquata may occur in the area.
Denisonia devisi occurs in wooded areas and river flood plains west of Dalby.
Furina diadema has been found at Kaimkillenbun and Moonie, under well-embedded rocks and in dry ground litter, respectively. F. dunmaili and Hoplocephalus bitorquatus are known from the Dalby area but none were recorded during our survey.
Notechis scutatus occurs in the Bunya Mountains, one of its most northerly areas of distribution.
Pseudechis australis probably occurs in the district, although none were recorded during our survey. P. guttatus occurs throughout the district, having been found in widely scattered localities. P. porphyriacus (Fig. 10) occurs in the eastern part of the district, often being found killed on roads.
Pseudonaja textilis (Fig. 1 1) and P. nuchalis are both present in the district, although neither species appears to be particularly common.
Hemiaspis daemelii is known to occur in the area, although none were caught during the survey. Simoselaps australis is reasonably common throughout the district particularly around Squaretop Mountain, being found tinder and any available ground cover present.
Suta suta is common in wooded areas west of Dalby. S. gouldii has been found in ground litter west of Dalby, and is known to occur in open woodland habitats throughout the district.
Vermicella annulata is found throughout the district, being most common in rocky areas.
No species of reptile recorded as occurring in the Dalby district appears to be restricted to the district. Although some species have become less common as a result of human activities in the area, none appear to be endangered. Ample, suitable habitat for specialized species remains, and most species appear to have adapted to new conditions imposed on them over the last 150 years.
There is the possibility that other reptile species, not listed here, also occur in the Dalby district. Due to the lack of field studies in the area, this is difficult to speculate.
Unless economic circumstances radically change in the future, it seems that all species of reptiles in the district can maintain their populations at around their present levels, allowing for local fluctuations and localized changes in circumstances. Therefore, it appears that no new conservation measures in the district are urgently required to protect Its herpetofauna, although more research and field work is required. Collection of specimens by private hobbyists and even the pet trade, if allowed would not adversely impact on populations in the area, save for localised and probably temporary declines in numbers of a select few species, which would recover as soon as their areas ceased being collected. Human collections would never match the natural mortality from other sources, such as birds, cars, feral animals and other factors.
We wish to thank Fred and Pam Drew for providing us with accommodation during this survey and other invaluable assistance.
Cogger, H. G. 1992. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia (5th ed.). Reed Books, NSW and Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Fig. 1 Map of Australia showing the approximate location of the Dalby Distfict, indicated by a diamond near Brisbane.
There were also ten photos of reptiles known from the Dalby area printed with the paper. All by the author. Details of species referred to in this paper can also be found in the book Australian Reptiles and Frogs, by Raymond Hoser, published in 1989.
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