Daode YANG,Sikan CHEN,Yuanhui CHEN and Yuying YAN.Using Head Patch Pattern as a Reliable Biometric Character for Noninvasive Individual Recognition of an Endangered Pitviper Protobothrops mangshanensis[J].Asian Herpetological Research(AHR),2013,4(2):134-139.[doi:10.3724/SP.J.1245.2013.00134]
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Using Head Patch Pattern as a Reliable Biometric Character for Noninvasive Individual Recognition of an Endangered Pitviper Protobothrops mangshanensis
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Asian Herpetological Research[ISSN:2095-0357/CN:51-1735/Q]

2013 VoI.4 No.2
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Original Article
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Using Head Patch Pattern as a Reliable Biometric Character for Noninvasive Individual Recognition of an Endangered Pitviper Protobothrops mangshanensis
Daode YANG1* Sikan CHEN1 Yuanhui CHEN2 and Yuying YAN1
1 Institute of Wildlife Conservation, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 410004, Hunan, China
2 Hunan Mangshan National Nature Reserve Administration, Yizhang 424221, Hunan, China
biometric identification endangered snake head patch pattern Mangshan pitviper noninvasive individual recognition image?analysis natural markings
Mangshan pitviper, Protobothrops mangshanensis (formerly Zhaoermia mangshanensis) is endemic to China. Unfortunately, due to the decreasing size of its wild populations, this snake has been listed as critically endangered. Research carried out on the Mangshan pitviper’s population ecology and captive reproduction has revealed that the unique head patch patterns of different individuals may potentially be used as a noninvasive recognition biometric character. We collected head patch pattern images of 40 individuals of P. mangshanensis between 1994 and 2011. By comparing each pitviper’s head patch pattern, we found that the head patch pattern of individual snakes was different and unique. Additionally, we observed and recorded the head patch pattern characters of four adults and five juveniles before and after ecdysis. Our findings confirmed that head patch patterns of Mangshan pitvipers are unique and stable, remaining unchanged after ecdysis. Thus, individuals can be quickly identified by examining the head patch pattern within a specific recognition area on the head. This method may be useful for noninvasive individual recognition in many other species that display color patch pattern variations, especially in studies of endangered species where the use of invasive marking techniques is undesirable.


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