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Rediscovery of Andrea's keelback, Hebius andreae (Ziegler & Le, 2006): First country record for Laos and phylogenetic placement

Ziegler, Thomas; Luu, Vinh Quang; Nguyen, Than Tung; Ha, Ngoan Van; Ngo, Hanh Thi; Le, Minh Duc; Nguyen, Truong Quang

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Revue suisse de Zoologie
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For more than a decade, the keelback snake Hebius andreae was only known from the holotype from the limestone forest in the central Truong Son (the Annamite Mountain Range) of Quang Binh Province in Vietnam. As the adult male was formaldehyde-fixed, the description was based on morphological characters only. During recent herpetological surveys in the karst forest of central Laos, opposite to the type locality of H. andreae on the other side of the Annamite Range, the Andrea's keelback is rediscovered. Based on a juvenile male from Bualapha District, Khammouane Province, within Hin Nam No National Protected Area, we herein report the first country record of this species from Laos, provide an expanded morphological definition, and for the first time recover the phylogenetic relationship of H. andreae, based on the sequences of four genes, including one mitochondrial, cytochrome b, and three nuclear markers, Cmos, NT3, and Rag1. The phylogenetic placement of H. andreae reveals it to be a member of Hebius, in fact the most basal representative of the genus. The rediscovery of the beautiful but still poorly known and obviously rare species underlines the conservation importance of the Annamite Mountain Range as habitat and refugium for the regional unique biodiversity, which only occurs in this karst massif.

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