Recent genetic studies on ecology and conservation of herpetofauna in HK

Yik Hei SUNG and Jonathan FONG


Hong Kong’s herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) diversity is globally-important, including many endemic and endangered species. We have applied traditional genetic analyses to delimit species boundaries, clarify taxonomic status, and characterise population structure. These data have been applied to evaluating conservation status of species, managing invasive species, and regulating wildlife trade. With new sequencing technology and analytical approaches, we have expanded into new research topics: (1) developing environmental DNA (eDNA) methods to monitor endangered freshwater turtles, (2) characterising the microbiota of wild herpetofauna, and (3) using genomic approaches to study phylogeography. We have also started the Lingnan Natural History Collection, specimens and associated tissues for molecular work, as a resource for Hong Kong researchers. Currently, we have specimens of herpetofauna, fish, and invertebrates (harvestmen). In this presentation, we detail these project and explain how this work contributes to the conservation of herpetofauna.