a NEW SPECIES OF CHAMELEON (SAURIA: CHAMAELEONIDAE: KINYONGIA) FROM THE NORTHERN ALRERTINE RIFT, CENTRAL AFRICA

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Abstract

The recently erected chameleon genus Kinyongia currently includes 17 species, with the majority of this diversity occurring in montane regions of East Africa. Kinyongia adolfifriderici is one of only three species in the genus to occur in Central Africa, with numerous populations occurring from low- to highelevation forests of the Albertine Rift. Recent fieldwork in the Lendu Plateau in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) led to the discovery of a population of chameleons that is significantly larger than and morphologically distinct from the closely related species K. adolfifriderici, which was described from the lowland Ituri forest, DRC. Analyses of mitochondrial (16S and ND2) and nuclear (RAG1) DNA sequence data revealed that K. adolfifriderici is a complex of cryptic species. Herein, we describe the Lendu population as a new species, underscoring the endemism and conservation importance of this poorly known, unprotected montane region.

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