Amphibia-Reptilia 32 (2011): 569 McCranie, J.R. (2011): The Snakes of Honduras . Systemat- ics, Distribution, and Conservation . Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Ithaca, NY, USA. x + 714 pages. ISBN 978-0-916-98481-6. In the tradition of the authoritative book The Amphibians of Honduras (2002) that he co- signed with L.D. Wilson, James McCranie con- tinues to provide his contribution to Honduran herpetology with this complete and very de- tailed volume on snakes. Honduras is the largest of all seven Central American countries and occupies a little more than 112 000 km 2 . At the current state of knowl- edge, 136 species of snakes are found in Hon- duras. The book starts with a general chap- ter about the geography of Honduras and an- other one about the history of reptilian study in the country. Then comes the biggest section of the volume, a complete account of all species that are currently known to occur in Honduras. This huge part of the book starts with a key to the nine snake families. Then, each species is treated with a monograph that includes chapters about synonymy, geographic distribution, de- scription, diagnosis for comparison with similar species, a review of illustrations found in the lit- erature, natural history, etymology and a list of specimen examined. A distribution map show- ing collecting sites is given for every species. Families, subfamilies and genera are also de- scribed. In these chapters, McCranie explains the systematics choices he made based on up- to-date references on the subject. For example, he chose to treat the snakes belonging to the su- perfamily Colubroidea all within the same fam- ily Colubridae and treat Colubrinae, Dispadinae and Natricinae as subfamilies, even though re- cent papers proposed to raise these subfamilies to the family level (Vidal et al., 2007, 2010). But the systematics of the Colubroidea is not yet to- tally resolved and it is not the aim of such a book to settle this complex topic. It is to note that he mentions the “new” families and gives the cor- respondences with the subfamily ranks he uses. When a family or a subfamily contains several genera, then a key to the genera is given. In the very same idea, a key to the species is given when a genus contains several species. All iden- tification keys are bilingual English/Spanish. After the species monographs comes a rather long chapter that deals with biogeography, both within the country and also on a broader scale. This chapter is very informative and mainly presents the data in the form of a table, which in my opinion renders the information about each species easier to find. The following chapter is about conservation status of the snakes. Here again, McCranie provides informative tables to present the status of each snake species and a map showing the different protected area in the country. Then come 20 colour plates. The three first plates present pictures of habitats, and the 17 others show pictures of snakes. All the pictures are of good quality. It is to note that not all the 136 Honduran species are shown in these colour plates. For example, the rare and endangered Typhlops tycherus is not depicted. Sometimes, several photographs represent the same species, but in different stages of life or color morphs. This is the case for example for Clelia clelia , a species that has a juvenile form quite different from the adult. The book ends with a glossary, a gazetteer of all sample sites, references and an index. This huge book represents a superb testimony of the impressive work carried out for four decades by James McCranie on Honduran her- petofauna. No doubt this volume will become a reference and a must-have in any herpetological library. References Vidal, N., Delmas, A.-S., David, P., Cruaud, C., Couloux, A., Hedges, B. (2007): The phylogeny and classification of caenophidian snakes inferred from seven nuclear protein-coding genes. Comptes Rendus Biologies 330 : 182-187. Vidal, N., Dewynter, M., Gower, D.J. (2010): Dissect- ing the major American snake radiation: A molecu- lar phylogeny of the Dipsadidae Bonaparte (Serpentes, Caenophidia). Comptes Rendus Biologies 333 : 48-55. Jean-Pierre Vacher Musée d’Histoire Naturelle et d’Ethnographie de Colmar, France firstname.lastname@example.org © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011. DOI:10.1163/156853811X598505
Amphibia-Reptilia – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
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