The reptile species assemblage of the Soutpansberg (Limpopo Province, South Africa) and its characteristics.
Salamandra 46(3): 147-166.
The Soutpansberg situated in north-eastern South Africa was investigated with respect to its reptile species diversity, geographic range of the species and habitat utilisation. Typical inselberg characteristics are discussed in the context of the herpetofauna and compared with the Blouberg, an isolated mountain range to the west of the Soutpansberg. Possible biogeographic links between the species assemblage of the Soutpansberg and adjacent areas are discussed in the context of present geological and climatic conditions within the area. The Soutpansberg reptile community clearly shows effects of isolation. the mistbelt and the grassland on the summits, which both withstood climatic oscillations in the past, harbour the majority of species and most of the endemic taxa in particular. Hence, these areas are of significant ecological value for the reptile community. Rocky habitats and the cooler and moister climate on the mountain provide exceptional conditions within this area. Most of the Soutpansberg endemics exhibit a rupicolous lifestyle and a large number of species are adapted to mesic conditions. A high proportion of Afromontane species was detected. Furthermore, eastern coastal and Lowveld elements exert an inuence on the species composition whereas the Kalahari elements are of lesser importance. Tropical forest species are completely absent. the Soutpansberg harbours more endemics (nine taxa) compared to the Blouberg (three taxa) due to its larger size and the resultant decreased risk of extinction.