Revision of some dwarf chameleons (Sauria: Chamaeleonidae: Bradypodion) from eastern South Africa.
This dissertation has the object of re-examining the taxonomic status of the dwarf chameleons related to Bradypodion melanocephalum and Bradypodion caffrum from eastern South Africa. The historical context of previous taxonomic treatments is reviewed. The basis of the taxonomic interpretation was established after a review of available alternatives. Cladistic analysis is used to elucidate the relationships of the taxa. The number of separate taxa that can be distinguished has been increased by the revival of one previously described taxon, the discovery of heretofore unknown populations and by the detection of the composite nature of some of the previously described taxa. Diagnoses and descriptions of the taxa under review are provided along with a key to their identification. The geographic distribution of these Bradypodion taxa is reviewed in the context of present ecological parameters and in terms of the historical evolution of the study area. Comparison is made with the distributions of other taxa of plants. invertebrates and vertebrates occurring in the same general area. This appears to indicate a shared evolutionary history with a number of localised areas of endemicity. The conservation status of these Red Data Book and CITES-listed dwarf chameleons is discussed with discussion of threats and priorities for further action. The use of these dwarf chameleon species as indicators for the identification of endemic areas should have important implications for conservation strategies in eastern South Africa. This dissertation is not to be considered as a publication for the purposes of zoological nomenclature.