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VIETNAM ANATURAL HISTORY
VIETNAM ANATURAL HISTORY
Eleanor Jane Sterling Martha Maud Hurley Le Due Minh
^illustrations by joyce a. powzyk
Yale University Press
New Haven and London
Published with assistance from the Mary Cady Tew Memorial Fund.
Copyright © 2006 by Eleanor J. Sterling, Martha M. Hurley, and Le Duc Minh (text); Kevin Koy (line drawings), and the American Museum of Natural History (watercolor illustrations and photographs) All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers.
Designed by Sonia Shannon Set in Minion type by Tseng Information Systems, Inc. Printed in Italy by EuroGrafica SpA.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Sterling, Eleanor J. Vietnam:anaturalhistory/ Eleanor Jane Sterling, Martha Maud Hurley, Le Duc Minh ; with illustrations by Joyce A. Powzyk. p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-300-10608-4 (clothbound : alk. paper) ISBN-10: 0-300-10608-4 (clothbound : alk. paper) 1. Natural history—Vietnam. I. Hurley, Martha Maud, 1966-II. Le, Minh Duc, 1973- III. Title. QH184.6.S74 2006 508.597 — dc22 2005029254
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources.
The current destruction of our forests will lead to
serious effects on climate, productivity and life. The forest is gold. If we know how to conserve and manage it well, it will be very valuable.
Pha rung nhieu nhu vay se anh hudng den khi hau, anh hudng den san xua't, doi song rat nhieu .. . Rung la vang neu minh biet bao ve, xay dung thi rung rat qu" -Ho Chi Minh 1963
Preface ix Acknowledgments xvii
An Introduction to Vietnam 1
Humans and the Environment 23
Biogeography of Vietnam 45
Vietnam's Living Environments 71
five The Fauna of Vietnam 97
Northern Vietnam: Termination ofthe Himalayas
Central Vietnam and the Truong Son Range: From Wet Mountains to Dry Forests 211
Southern Vietnam: Ascendancy of the Mekong 261
Threats to Vietnam's Biodiversity
Conservation: The Future of Vietnam's Living World
appendix 1 Ethnic Groups and Their Distribution in Vietnam
Endemic and Restricted-Range Mammals and Birds in Vietnam
appendix 3 New Terrestrial Vertebrates Described from Vietnam, 1992-2004
appendix 4 New Plant Genera Described from Vietnam, 1992-2004
Bibliography 389 Index 407
The name Vietnam once evoked images ofsoldiers sweating in tropical jungles, villagers dressed in handsome textiles and conical hats, emerald-green rice paddies dotted with water buffalo, and perhaps colonial hill stations framed against jagged mountains. Those more familiar with the country's contemporary demeanor supplant these mostly rural and historic snapshots with impressions of the crowded city streets and newly built roads ofa bustling economy.
Tucked away behind such manifestations of human activity is Vietnam's living environment: its plants and animals, waterways and deltas, hills and mountains, habitats and ecosystems. Vietnam's biodiversity—the variety of life in all its forms — is the focus of this book. Vietnam's wildlands are rich in species, and many of them are found nowhere else in the world. Research continues to uncover new plant and animal species, increasing Vietnam's profile in global conservation.
Vietnam: A Natural History originated from research and conservation efforts undertaken by staff from the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History (<http://cbc.vietnam .amnh.org>). In 1995, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development decided to increase the country's network of protected forested lands. Since 1997, the Center has worked alongside international research teams and Vietnamese scientists to advise the government on where to locate new reserves, addressing both biodiversity conservation priorities and local people's relationship to the land and resources.
As we were undertaking this research, we found no written sources providing comprehensive overviews of the country's natural history for researchers, conservation managers, or the merely curious. Important in-
formation is scattered throughout published books and papers (many from the early twentieth century), poorly distributed reports, and unpublished manuscripts and lists, as well as in the heads of dedicated scientists. The available literature, written in many languages, including Vietnamese, French, Chinese, Russian, and English, poses a challenge for even the most gifted polyglot.
In this book, we draw from these scattered resources to describe Vietnam's current species diversity and distribution, exploring its evolutionary roots in Southeast Asia's geological, climatic, and historical complexity. We broaden the more traditional scope of natural history narratives by addressing threats to the country's living resources. As in all nations, human activities imperil Vietnam's biodiversity and any detailed examination of it merits a consideration of threats and challenges to conservation.
In chapter 1, we provide an overview of Vietnam's natural and cultural environment and introduce the main themes covered in the rest ofthe book. Chapter 2 describes human history in Vietnam and the relationship between Vietnam's peoples and their environment. Chapter 3 explores the evolutionary roots of Vietnam's diversity in the region's dynamic physical environment. Chapter 4 presents an overview of the country's flora and living environments, and Chapter 5 deals with the country's faunal groups. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 depict the biodiversity of northern (Bac Bo), central (Trung Bo), and southern (Nam Bo) Vietnam, respectively. This geographical organization highlights the substantial biological and cultural differences between the areas. Each geographical chapter covers regional topography, climate, ethnic diversity, and characteristic habitats, plants, and animals, as well as recommendations for viewing wildlife. Chapter 9 considers historical and continuing threats to Vietnam's biodiversity, and Chapter 10 reviews ongoing efforts to counter them.
Throughout the book, Vietnam's plants and animals are presented largely through watercolor illustrations. Many of the species depicted have rarely been seen or collected for museums or herbaria, much less photographed in the wild. The illustrator, Dr. Joyce A. Powzyk, relied on original species descriptions, historical plates, museum specimens, field guides, the occasional photograph, and repeated expert opinions to render the plants and animals as accurately as possible.
Joyce Powzyk's experiences reflect an important thread that surfaces through the book: Vietnam's biological diversity remains incompletely documented. Despite explorations dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, research on Vietnam's flora and fauna fell to a minimum during the First Indochinese War, which began soon after World War II and lasted until 1954, and the Second Indochinese War (also known as the Vietnam War and referred to here as the Vietnam-American War), lasting from 1955 to 1975. Starting in the early 1990s, new scientific information again began to flow from Vietnam, at times initiating a reexamination of previous conclusions. The natural history presented here reflects the state of knowledge as of publication and remains far from a finished portrait.
Last, a word of caution to those hoping to see the wealth of wildlife described in this book when they visit Vietnam. Portions of Vietnam are stunningly beautiful, yet no forest in Vietnam can be considered pristine, and few natural forests remain even relatively intact. People have lived in Vietnam for millennia, and even the most isolated areas are less than a few days' walk from the nearest human settlement. The remaining natural areas are, in effect, fragmented islands in a sea of human habitation. They are often located in politically sensitive zones along the nation's borders where access is restricted and the threat of unexploded ordnance remains. As a result, the likelihood of glimpsing a Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis)or eventhe much more common forest-dwelling Red Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak)is slim. Yet Vietnam remains a fascinating place — biologically, geologically, and culturally—and has much to share with visitors of its beauty, history, and diversity, both past and present.
conventions on language, names, and dates
Questions about the use of proper names for both places and people arose frequently when we were writing this book. We have tried to use familiar and standardized names while avoiding those with undulynegative connotations or contexts.
Names can be ill defined or misleading. Western geographers appear to have created the term Indochina in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Al
though defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as the region between India and China, Indochina more commonly refers collectively to the countries of Vietnam, Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos), and Cambodia, as it does in this book. (The larger area encompassing Myanmar, Thailand, and Peninsular Malaysia we refer to as mainland Southeast Asia.) The term Indochina implies that Vietnam was a cultural and political void before the influence of India and China. This was not the case: archaeological work clearly shows that sophisticated indigenous trade networks existed before Indian and Chinese trade influenced the region.
Some names may be offensive to the Vietnamese, dating from times of occupation. The most widely used name for Vietnam's major mountain chain, the Annamites, comes from the term An Nam, derived from Ngannan in Chinese. It translates as ''southern subdued'' or ''pacified south'' and arose during Chinese occupation of Vietnam's lands in the early seventh century. We have substituted Vietnamese names where possible. The French commonly used the terms Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina to denote northern, central, and southern Vietnam; ornithologists still use these designations. The Vietnamese terms are Bac Bo, Truong Bo, and Nam Bo, respectively.
Proper names, for both places and people, differ between contempo-raryVietnamese and English. Vietnamese retains a characteristic ofits roots in the Chinese language: the tendency to break down a word into individual symbols (analogous to characters) that represent the components of its meaning. Thus, Vietnam is written as Viet Nam, Hanoi as Ha Noi, and Danang as Da Nang. In this book, we follow Vietnamese conventions for place-names except Vietnam and Hanoi, whose long usage in the West has displaced native spellings. The rest, however, appear as they do on Vietnamese maps and gazetteers. For Vietnamese place-names, with the exception of Fan Xi Pan (Phan Si Pan), we followed the Vietnam National Atlas (Dang Hung Vo, 1996). In the case of proper names, the Vietnamese use an inverse of most Western conventions, placing family name first, given name last, and an additional, often familial, name in the middle. All Vietnamese names are written out fully in the national style.
The name Vietnam itself has been in use for less than two centuries.
In the early nineteenth century, Emperor Gia Long attempted to name the country ''Nam Viet'' and requested approval from the Chinese emperor. The emperor responded that Nam Viet was too similar to ''Nam Viet Dong,'' an ancient Chinese kingdom, and to avoid confusion (and possible territorial disputes), he recommended reversing the name to Viet Nam, meaning ''people of the south.''
For historical dates, we use the convention ''of the common era'' (c.e.) and ''before the common era'' (b.c.e.), which are equivalent to ''in the year of the Lord'' (anno Domini; a.d.) and ''before Christ'' (b.c.), respectively.
conventions on taxonomy
The species is the fundamental unit of classification in the living world. The question of exactly what constitutes a species—the species problem—remains among the most contentious in biology, thoroughly resistant to consensus. Despite this, most biologists concur about two attributes ofspecies. First, they agree that species are real units defined by measurable differences in characteristics such as color, dimension, and behavior. That is, species are not artificial entities generated by the very human desire to classify the world around us. Second, they agree that species are one or more closely related evolutionary lineages whose genetic exchange with other lineages is limited. Although this disagreement may seem academic, differences in species definitions reflect the complex set of evolutionary processes from which all life's diversity originates.
In naming species, scientists still depend largely on binomial nomenclature, first developed by the eighteenth-century Swedish botanist Caro-lus Linnaeus. In this system a combination of two words, the genus and the species (for instance, Panthera tigris), uniquely identify each species (in this case, the Tiger). By convention both words are italicized, and when a sequence of species in the same genus is written out, the generic name is abbreviated in all except the first usage. The genus is the next level above species in a taxonomic hierarchy that groups organisms into increasingly inclusive sets. Species sharing a set oftraits are grouped into a genus, genera intoafamily,familiesintoanorder,ordersintoaclass,classesintoaphy
lum (or division for plants), and finally phyla/divisions into a kingdom. The goal at each level of classification is to include all descendants of a single evolutionary lineage within the grouping.
An additional category exists below the species level: the subspecies, sometimes referred to as geographic races. As with species, the definition of the subspecies varies. Most generally it is one or more populations occupying subsets of a species's range and varying in a detectable manner from other populations of the species. That is, the populations are different—but not enough to be considered a full species. Many biologists who study evolutionary relationships ignore subspecies classifications as being too flexible and inconstant to be informative. However, they are very useful in mapping biodiversity and identifying key populations for conservation efforts. They may often represent previously unrecognized species.
The taxonomic classification of an organism at any hierarchical level is not fixed and unchanging. New discoveries and ongoing research on evolutionary relationships using morphological, behavioral, and (increasingly) genetic techniques can precipitate reclassifications and name changes. To ensure clarity in this volume, where possible we chose a standard set of references for both common and scientific names. Mammalian scientific names are after Corbet and Hill (1992), with the exception of the primates (Brandon-Jones et al., 2004). Mammalian common names are after Duckworth and Pine (2003). Avian scientific names follow Inskipp et al. (1996); common names follow Robson et al. (2000). Amphibian taxonomy follows Frost (2002); reptilian taxonomy follows Uetz et al. (2004). Plants, fishes, and invertebrates lack comprehensive taxonomic reviews for the region. In these cases we relied on the advice of experts and a variety of published works. We referred to relevant, peer-reviewed publications for revisions of taxonomic groups and the taxonomy and common names of species described after the publication date of the standard reference.
conventions on conservation status
The globalconservationstatus ofspecies is anotherregularlychangingclas-sification, and here we rely on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) assessments of global extinction risk, known as the IUCN Red List. Groups of
specialists evaluate each species, using information on population sizes and rates of decline and the degree of habitat fragmentation within their distributional range to place them into three threat categories depending on the risk of extinction in the wild: Critically Endangered (extremely high risk), Threatened (very high risk), and Vulnerable (high risk). Specialists can also categorize a species as Near Threatened if it is likely to qualify for a threat category in the near future and Data Deficient if information on population status or distribution is inadequate to reach a conclusion. The final categories—Extinct and Extinct in the Wild — are self-explanatory. At the national level, Vietnam has joined other countries in publishing its country-based conservation assessments in the form of Red Data Books for plants and for animals.
The primary tool for controlling international trade in wild plants and animals is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (cites). First adopted in 1975, this agreement requires that signatory nations authorize the international trade of species identified as at risk by a system of import and export permits. Species considered by cites to be threatened by trade are listed in appendixes according to the degree of protection needed. Species listed in appendix 1 are threatened with extinction, and commercial international trade is generally prohibited; those in appendix 2 are not necessarily currently threatened with extinction but risk becoming so if trade is not controlled. Vietnam became a signatory of the convention in 1993.
This book would not have been possible without the assistance of a great number of individuals both at the American Museum of Natural History and beyond.
We thank our editors, Jean Thomson Black and Laura Jones Dooley, and their colleagues at Yale University Press, including Chris Coffin, Laura Davulis, Molly Egland, Sonia Shannon, Jessie Hunnicutt, and Maureen Noonan, for their patience, expertise, and support.
Invaluable research assistance or other contributions were provided by many people, including Walter Bachman, Raoul Bain, Josh Berman, Kyle Beucke, Georgina Cullman, Kevin Frey, Kevin Koy, Jimin Lee, Finn Longi-notto, Darrin Lunde, Ho-Ling Poon, Jack Regalado, Kimberly Roosenburg, Daniel Ross, Cal Snyder, Tania Sosa, Sacha Spector, Ally Migani Wall, and the staff of the library at the American Museum of Natural History.
Illustrating Vietnam's diversity was extremely challenging, and we relied on the help of many people. Joyce Powzyk wrestled with limited guiding resources to produce watercolors that are both scientifically accurate and have a vitality rarely communicated on the printed page. Kevin Koy produced the maps and figures with invaluable skill, detail, and clarity. Photographs were generously provided by Jeb Barzen, Eleanor Briggs, Kevin Frey, Kevin Koy, Phan Ke Loc, Cal Snyder, Rob Timmins, and Tran Triet.
Many people carefully read through drafts of the manuscript, giving us insights into Vietnam's plants, animals, and people as well as our writing: Sally Anderson, Raoul Bain, Josh Berman, Fiona Brady, Will Duckworth, Sibyl Golden, George Harlow, Ian Harrison, Laurel Kendall, Melina Lav-erty, Darrin Lunde, Phan Ke Loc, Ana Luz Porzecanski, Jack Regalado, Phil Rundel, Jennifer Stenzel, Rob Timmins, and several anonymous reviewers.
Kevin Frey in particular burned the midnight oil reading many drafts over the past four years.
Last, we thank our friends, family, and our collaborators in Vietnam, including Le Xuan Canh, Le Dien Duc, Nguyen Tien Hiep, Phan Ke Loc, Khuat Dang Long, and other colleagues too numerous to mention.
Portions ofthis volume were produced with funding from the National Science Foundation Grant No. DEB 9870232 and from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
VIETNAM ANATURAL HISTORY
An Introduction to Vietnam
Vietnam, officially known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, holds within its boundaries a great variety of the
world's richest and grandest natural places, including vast deltas, fantastically eroded limestone towers, high-elevation cloud forests, red sand-dune coastal forests, and savanna-like grassland and forest mosaics. Yet Vietnam remains relatively unstudied when compared with other regions of high biodiversity. Since the mid-twentieth century, war and political turmoil have made research difficult and many parts of the country inaccessible. Despite these challenges, Vietnam's biodiversity draws scientists for several reasons: the country harbors a globally significant diversity of species; scientists have described an unexpectedly large number of new species since 1992; and a high proportion of its species are endemic — found only in Vietnam (and adjacent regions, in some cases) and nowhere else.
Vietnam is also home to substantial cultural diversity. Researchers currently recognize fifty-four ethnic groups in Vietnam. (In this volume, we follow accepted ethnic divisions, with the caveat that experts recognize these groupings to be flawed.) The Viet (or Kinh) is the most numerous of the groups, constituting over 85 percent of the population. After the Viet, ethnic groups range in size from around a million people (the Tay, Thai, Muong, Hoa, and Khmer) to just a few hundred (the O'du and Ro'mam) (fig. 1; see appendix 1). Linguists divide Vietnam's ethnic groups into eight language groups within five language families, spanning all the existing Southeast Asian languages south ofChina's Yangtze River (table 1). Widely distributed across the country, the ethnic groups exhibit an intermingling ofcustoms, including tattooing, teeth blackening, betel-nut chewing, ani-
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