Friday, March 16, 2018

[Herpetology • 2018] Gephyromantis lomorina • A Distinctive New Frog Species (Anura, Mantellidae) supports the Biogeographic Linkage of Two Montane Rainforest Massifs in northern Madagascar

Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) lomorina 
Scherz, Hawlitschek, Razafindraibe, Megson, Ratsoavina, Rakotoarison, Bletz, Glaw & Vences, 2018

We describe a new species of the genus Gephyromantis, subgenus Gephyromantis Vatomantis (Mantellidae, Mantellinae), from moderately high elevation (1164–1394 m a.s.l.) on the Marojejy, Sorata, and Andravory Massifs in northern Madagascar. The new species, Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) lomorina sp. n. is highly distinct from all other species, and was immediately recognisable as an undescribed taxon upon its discovery. It is characterised by a granular, mottled black and green skin, reddish eyes, paired subgular vocal sacs of partly white colour, bulbous femoral glands present only in males and consisting of three large granules, white ventral spotting, and a unique, amplitude-modulated advertisement call consisting of a series of 24–29 rapid, quiet notes at a dominant frequency of 5124–5512 Hz. Genetically the species is also strongly distinct from its congeners, with uncorrected pairwise distances ≥10 % in a fragment of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene to all other nominal Gephyromantis species. A molecular phylogeny based on 16S sequences places it in a clade with species of the subgenera Laurentomantis and Vatomantis, and we assign it to the latter subgenus based on its morphological resemblance to members of Vatomantis. We discuss the biogeography of reptiles and amphibians across the massifs of northern Madagascar, the evidence for a strong link between Marojejy and Sorata, and the role of elevation in determining community sharing across this landscape.

Key Words: Bioacoustics, Biogeography, Marojejy, Montane Endemism, Sorata, Taxonomy

Figure 2. The holotype of Gephyromantis lomorina sp. n., ZSM 419/2016 (ZCMV 15221) in life.
(a) Dorsal; (b) ventral; and (c) dorsolateral view. Scale bars indicate 5 mm. 

Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) lomorina sp. n. 

Diagnosis: A species assigned to the genus Gephyromantis on the basis of its granular skin, moderately enlarged finger tips, small femoral glands consisting of a small number of large granules and present in males only (thus of type 2 as defined by Glaw et al. 2000), and bifid tongue. Within the genus Gephyromantis, assigned to the subgenus Vatomantis on the basis of its small size, connected lateral metatarsalia, absence of an outer metatarsal tubercle, paired subgular vocal sacs of partly whitish colour, greenish skin colouration, and riparian ecology. Gephyromantis lomorina sp. n. is characterized by the possession of the following suite of morphological characters: (1) granular skin, (2) reddish eyes, (3) mottled green and black skin, (4) males with paired subgular vocal sacs of partly white colour, (5) males with bulbous type 2 femoral glands consisting of a small number (2–3) of large granules, (6) white spots on the venter, (7) SVL 20.2–25.5 mm, and (8) fourth finger much longer than second. Furthermore, the species is characterised by distinctive, 1681–1827 ms advertisement calls of relatively low intensity, consisting of 24–30 individual pulsed notes, with 2–4 pulses per note, an inter-note interval of 41–75 ms, and a dominant frequency of 5124–5555 Hz. DNA sequence data from the 16S gene fragment supports the high divergence of this taxon to all other Gephyromantis, and is in agreement with its subgeneric assignment, albeit without statistical support (Fig. 1).

Etymology: The specific epithet is the Malagasy word lomorina, meaning ‘covered in moss’, in reference to the green, mossy appearance of the species in life. It is used as an invariable noun in apposition to the genus name.

Available names: There are no other, earlier names currently available (e.g., junior synonyms) that are assignable to the subgenera Vatomantis or Laurentomantis and that could apply to the new species.

Distribution: The new species is known from three localities in northeastern Madagascar: (1) Marojejy National Park (type locality), (2) Sorata massif, and (3) Andravory massif (Fig. 6). All specimens were collected between 1164 and 1394 m a.s.l.
Natural history: Specimens were collected near mountain streams in pristine montane riparian rainforest (Fig. 4g). In Marojejy National Park they were encountered during and after light rain, sitting in inconspicuous locations, especially on the fronds of tree ferns, but also on other low vegetation, between a few centimetres and up to 2 m above the ground. Specimens in Sorata were found in similar positions during dry weather, in the days just before the beginning of the rainy season. Males called irregularly and softly (see the call description above). Population density in Marojejy was remarkably high, with around three or four individuals being found along a 10 m stretch of stream. The observed density in Sorata was lower, possibly due to the absence of rain during the observation period. The species occurred in close sympatry with a number of other mantellids, but only few of these (especially Mantidactylus aff. femoralis) were found in the same microhabitat. Several specimens from Marojejy had pinkish mites (probably of the genus Endotrombicula; see Wohltmann et al. 2007) embedded within translucent whitish pustules on the skin of their fingers, toes, and bodies. Nothing is known about the reproduction of this species, but the calling sites suggest an association with lotic water.

Figure 3. Morphological and chromatic variation among paratypes of Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) lomorina sp. n. from Marojejy in life.
 (a–b) ZSM 420/2016; (c–d) UADBA 60296; (e–f) UADBA 60295; and (g–h) ZSM 418/2016. Scale bars indicate 2 mm. 

Figure 4. Photographs of Gephyromantis (Vatomantis) lomorina sp. n. and its habitat in Sorata.
 (a,d) ZSM 1545/2012; (b,e) ZSM 1547/2012; and (c,f) ZSM 1549/2012, not to scale;
 (g) habitat where several specimens were found in Sorata, showing (h,i) the appearance of the species in situ whilst calling at night.

 Mark D. Scherz, Oliver Hawlitschek, Jary H. Razafindraibe, Steven Megson, Fanomezana Mihaja Ratsoavina, Andolalao Rakotoarison, Molly C. Bletz, Frank Glaw and Miguel Vences. 2018. A Distinctive New Frog Species (Anura, Mantellidae) supports the Biogeographic Linkage of Two Montane Rainforest Massifs in northern Madagascar. Zoosystematics and Evolution. 94(2); 247-261. DOI:  10.3897/zse.94.21037

[Paleontology • 2018] Ascendonanus nestleri • First Arboreal 'Pelycosaurs' (Synapsida: Varanopidae) from the early Permian Chemnitz Fossil Lagerstätte, SE Germany, with A Review of Varanopid Phylogeny

 Ascendonanus nestleri 
Spindler,  Werneburg, Schneider, Luthardt, Annacker & Rößler, 2018

A new fossil amniote from the Fossil Forest of Chemnitz (Sakmarian-Artinskian transition, Germany) is described as Ascendonanus nestleri gen. et sp. nov., based on five articulated skeletons with integumentary preservation. The slender animals exhibit a generalistic, lizard-like morphology. However, their synapsid temporal fenestration, ventrally ridged centra and enlarged iliac blades indicate a pelycosaur-grade affiliation. Using a renewed data set for certain early amniotes with a similar typology found Ascendonanus to be a basal varanopid synapsid. This is the first evidence of a varanopid from Saxony and the third from Central Europe, as well as the smallest varanopid at all. Its greatly elongated trunk, enlarged autopodia and strongly curved unguals, along with taphonomical observations, imply an arboreal lifestyle in a dense forest habitat until the whole ecosystem was buried under volcanic deposits. Ascendonanus greatly increases the knowledge on rare basal varanopids; it also reveals a so far unexpected ecotype of early synapsids. Its integumentary structures present the first detailed and soft tissue skin preservation of any Paleozoic synapsid. Further systematic results suggest a varanodontine position for Mycterosaurus, the monophyly of South African varanopids including Anningia and the distinction of a skeletal aggregation previously assigned to Heleosaurus, now renamed as Microvaranops parentis gen. et sp. nov.

Keywords: Arboreality, Synapsid phylogeny, Adaptation, Cisuralian, Soft tissue preservation, Volcanic taphonomy


Frederik Spindler, Ralf Werneburg, Joerg W. Schneider, Ludwig Luthardt, Volker Annacker and Ronny Rößler. 2018. First Arboreal 'Pelycosaurs' (Synapsida: Varanopidae) from the early Permian Chemnitz Fossil Lagerstätte, SE Germany, with A Review of Varanopid Phylogeny. PalZ.  DOI: 10.1007/s12542-018-0405-9

Vortrag: Saurier unter Chemnitz – neue Erkenntnisse aus dem Versteinerten Wald

Abstract: The palaeontological collection of Chemnitz has been a constantly growing, developing and limitless source of knowledge on the relation of earth’s history and the development of life on earth, for over three centuries. Initially founded by science interested citizens on a voluntary basis, only with the premise to enable public access to collections and scientific information, it has developed and has been structuralized based on professional geoscientific considerations. Today, the collection is preserved, added to through selected purchases, diversely used and it serves as a foundation for globally linked up scientific research, as well as for interdisciplinary exhibitions and diverse educational programs and activities. The essence of the collection documents the evolution and preservation of terrestrial ecosystems with a special emphasis on volcanic environments and petrified wood.

Ronny Rößler and Thorid Zierold. 2017. Die paläontologische Sammlung des Museums für Naturkunde Chemnitz – eine Zeitreise zu den Wurzeln der Paläobotanik. Veröff. Museum für Naturkunde Chemnitz. 40; 5-30.

[Herpetology • 2018] Reproductive Biology and Maternal Care of Neonates in southern African Python (Python natalensis)

 Neonate southern African pythons (Python natalensis) basking at the entrance to the nest chamber.

in  Alexander. 2018.  DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12554

Reproductive strategies such as parental care have been pivotal in evolutionary innovations such as endothermy in birds and mammals. The diversity of reproductive biology across the squamates provides a unique opportunity for elucidating the selective forces responsible for the evolution of various reproductive strategies. Here, I report on the reproductive biology of the southern African python (Python natalensis), based on a 7-year study of free-ranging pythons, revealing a behavioural complexity not usually expected for snakes. Mating occurred in the austral winter, with individual males following females for more than 2 months. As is typical for pythons, females brooded eggs by coiling around the clutch. Females are capital breeders; they lost ~40% body mass during a breeding event and did not breed in consecutive years. There was no evidence of the facultative thermogenesis that has been reported in congeners, suggesting that facultative thermogenesis has arisen independently more than once in Python. Reproductive females thermoregulated more carefully than non-reproductives, maintaining higher, more stable Tbs at all stages of reproduction, especially while brooding. This was achieved by a stereotypic basking regime facilitated by ‘facultative melanism’, with females darkening significantly for the entire breeding event. Mothers remained with neonates at the nest site for approximately 2 weeks after hatching. During this time, mothers alternated between brief bouts of basking on the surface and coiling around the hatched eggs, on which the neonates rested. Neonates formed an aggregation near the burrow entrance to bask during the day, individually returning to the nest intermittently throughout the day. During the night, neonates remained within the mother's coils on the hatched eggs. This study highlights the diversity of reproductive biology within Python and cautions against generalization in this regard. This is the first unambiguous report of maternal care of neonates in an oviparous snake.

Figure 4.  Neonate southern African pythons (Python natalensis) basking at the entrance to the nest chamber.
 Some of the neonates have already undergone their first shed.

G. J. Alexander. 2018. Reproductive Biology and Maternal Care of Neonates in southern African Python (Python natalensis).  Journal of Zoology.  DOI: 10.1111/jzo.12554

New insights into how southern African pythons look after their babies
'Cold-blooded' pythons make for caring moms via @physorg_com

[Botany • 2018] Describing Terminologies and Discussing Records: More Discoveries of Facultative Vivipary in the Genus Hedychium J.Koenig (Zingiberaceae) from Northeast India

Hedychium marginatum, H. speciosum var. gardnerianum, Hthyrsiforme Hurophyllum
in Ashokan & Gowda, 2018.

The authors introduce the term facultative vivipary for the first time in gingers and elaborate on this reproductive strategy. Four new observations of facultative vivipary are reported in the genus Hedychium which were discovered during botanical explorations by the authors in Northeast India (NE India) over the past three years. The viviparous taxa are H. marginatum C.B.Clarke, H. speciosum var. gardnerianum (Ker Gawl.) Sanoj & M.Sabu (previously, H. gardnerianum Sheppard ex Ker Gawl.), H. thyrsiforme Buch.-Ham. ex Sm. and H. urophyllum G.Lodd. The authors also attempt to summarise the occurrence of vivipary in the family Zingiberaceae from published reports and to clarify a taxonomic misidentification in a previously known report of vivipary in Hedychium elatum.

Keywords: Facultative vivipary, gingers, Meghalaya, Nagaland, phenology, pseudovivipary, recalcitrant seeds

Figure 2. Facultative vivipary in Hedychium.
A & B Hedychium marginatum C & D H. speciosum var. gardnerianum, E & F. H. thyrsiforme, G & H. H. urophyllum.

Photographed by A. Ashokan & N.S. Prasanna (E&F).

Figure 3. Inflorescence. A Hedychium marginatum B H. speciosum var. gardnerianum C H. thyrsiforme D H. urophyllum.
Photographed by A. Ashokan.

 Ajith Ashokan and Vinita Gowda. 2018. Describing Terminologies and Discussing Records: More Discoveries of Facultative Vivipary in the Genus Hedychium J.Koenig (Zingiberaceae) from Northeast India. PhytoKeys 96: 21-34.  DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.96.23461

[Herpetology • 2018] Pristimantis antisuyu & P. erythroinguinis • Two New Species of Terrestrial-breeding Frogs (Anura, Strabomantidae) from the eastern Slopes of the Andes in Manu National Park, Peru

Pristimantis antisuyu
 Catenazzi & Lehr, 2018


We describe two new species of Pristimantis from the Kosñipata valley in the eastern slopes of the Andes near Manu National Park, Peru. The two new species are closely related but do not overlap elevationally: Pristimantis antisuyu sp. n. occurs from 1485–1823 m a.s.l., whereas Pristimantis erythroinguinis sp. n. occurs from 930–1255 m a.s.l. Both species are readily distinguished from all other species of Pristimantis but P. cruciocularis and P. flavobracatus by possessing an iris with a cruciform pattern, no tympanum, and red bright or yellow coloration on groin. We used a Maximum Likelihood approach to infer a molecular phylogeny on a dataset composed of 27 terminals and 903 bp of the concatenated 16S rRNA and COI mitochondrial fragments. Our phylogenetic analyses indicate that, despite differing in groin coloration from red to yellow, individuals of P. cruciocularis and P. flavobracatus form a single clade, and some specimens have identical 16S sequences. Therefore, we synonymize P. flavobracatus with P. cruciocularis. The two unnamed species are closely related to P. cruciocularis. Pristimantis antisuyu sp. n. differs from P. cruciocularis and P. erythroinguinis sp. n. by having smaller yellow spots, instead of extensive red coloration, on groin and hind limbs, by being larger with proportionally longer tibias, and by having an inner metatarsal tubercle three times the size of outer metatarsal tubercle (twice as long in the other two species). Pristimantis erythroinguinis sp. n., despite having coloration very similar to P. cruciocularis, is the sister taxon to both P. antisuyu sp. n. and P. cruciocularis, and can be distinguished from the latter by having much darker ventral coloration, and no cream or yellow spots on flanks and surrounding the red inguinal marks.

Keywords: Amphibia, Amazon Basin, Brachycephaloidea, frog, cloud forest, Paucartambo, phylogenetics, synonymy, taxonomy, Terrarana

Alessandro Catenazzi and Edgar Lehr. 2018. Pristimantis antisuyu sp. n. and Pristimantis erythroinguinis sp. n., Two New Species of Terrestrial-breeding Frogs (Anura, Strabomantidae) from the eastern Slopes of the Andes in Manu National Park, Peru.   4394(2); 185–206.  DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4394.2.2
Two new frog species for Manu National Park - Catenazzi Lab

[Herpetology • 2018] Phylogenetic Surveys on the Newt Genus Tylototriton sensu lato (Salamandridae, Caudata) reveal Cryptic Diversity and Novel Diversification Promoted by Historical Climatic Shifts

Figure 1: Sampling localities (A) and Maximum likelihood (ML) tree obtained based on mtDNA data of Tylototriton s.l. and relatives (B). Sample number 1–108 refer to Table S1. Five clades (I, II, III, IV and V) of the genus were denoted as different colors. Bootstrap supports (bs) resulted from ML analyses and posterior probability (pp) resulted from Bayesian inference (BI) method were labeled on major nodes. Node supports ML1 and BI1 were resulted from analyses on mtDNA data, while ML2 and BI2 were from analyses on four-gene concatenated data. Black: bs > 70% or pp > 0.95, grey: bs = 50–70% or pp = 0.85–0.95, white: bs < 50% and pp < 0.85.

in Wang, Nishikawa, Matsui, et al​., 2018.
  DOI: 10.7717/peerj.4384 


Global climatic transitions and Tibetan Plateau uplifts are hypothesized to have profoundly impacted biodiversity in southeastern Asia. To further test the hypotheses related to the impacts of these incidents, we investigated the diversification patterns of the newt genus Tylototriton sensu lato, distributed across the mountain ranges of southeastern Asia. Gene-tree and species-tree analyses of two mitochondrial genes and two nuclear genes revealed five major clades in the genus, and suggested several cryptic species. Dating estimates suggested that the genus originated in the early-to-middle Miocene. Under different species delimitating scenarios, diversification analyses with birth-death likelihood tests indicated that the genus held a higher diversification rate in the late Miocene-to-Pliocene era than that in the Pleistocene. Ancestral area reconstructions indicated that the genus originated from the northern Indochina Peninsula. Accordingly, we hypothesized that the Miocene Climatic Transition triggered the diversification of the genus, and the reinforcement of East Asian monsoons associated with the stepwise uplifts of the Tibetan Plateau promoted the radiation of the genus in southeastern Asia during the Miocene-to-Pliocene period. Quaternary glacial cycles likely had limited effects on speciation events in the genus, but mainly had contributions on their intraspecific differentiations.

Figure 1: Sampling localities (A) and Maximum likelihood (ML) tree obtained based on mtDNA data of Tylototriton s.l. and relatives (B).
Sample number 1–108 refer to Table S1. Five clades (I, II, III, IV and V) of the genus were denoted as different colors. Bootstrap supports (bs) resulted from ML analyses and posterior probability (pp) resulted from Bayesian inference (BI) method were labeled on major nodes. Node supports ML1 and BI1 were resulted from analyses on mtDNA data, while ML2 and BI2 were from analyses on four-gene concatenated data. Black: bs > 70% or pp > 0.95, grey: bs = 50–70% or pp = 0.85–0.95, white: bs < 50% and pp < 0.85.

in Wang, Nishikawa, Matsui, et al​., 2018.

Our findings provided evidence for the profound influences of historical climate shifts especially associated with the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau on the diversification of animals occurring in the southeastern Asia. The results basically confirmed the reports on plant lineages, such as Rheum (Sun et al., 2012), Lepisorus (Wang et al., 2012a; Wang et al., 2012b), Juniperus (Mao et al., 2010) and Isodon (Yu et al., 2014), and on animal groups, such as Chiastocheta Pokorny, 1889 (Anthomyiidae, Diptera, Insecta; Espíndola, Buerki & Alvarez, 2012) and spiny frogs (Dicroglossidae, Anura, Amphibia; Che et al., 2010). Yet the present study further supplied some other indications. Primarily, although diversification of the newt group was promoted by the climatic shifts, several factors, for example, niche limits and their intrinsic low dispersal capacity, might have contributed to their Pleistocene rate-slowdown diversification. In addition, this study provided a putative “complete” species tree for Tylototriton s.l. to date. The inclusion of many putative cryptic species in the diversification analyses seems to be effective in finding diversification models of the group. But at present, wild populations of Tylototriton s.l. show a significant decline due to many reasons, such as climate changes, human capture and habitat deterioration. Further deep investigations of undetected cryptic lineages might supply the basic requirement for disclosing “true” diversification history of the taxa.

Bin Wang, Kanto Nishikawa, Masafumi Matsui, Truong Quang Nguyen, Feng Xie, Cheng Li, Janak Raj Khatiwada, Baowei Zhang, Dajie Gong, Yunming Mo, Gang Wei, Xiaohong Chen, Youhui Shen, Daode Yang, Rongchuan Xiong and Jianping Jiang​. 2018. Phylogenetic Surveys on the Newt Genus Tylototriton sensu lato (Salamandridae, Caudata) reveal Cryptic Diversity and Novel Diversification Promoted by Historical Climatic Shifts. PeerJ. 6:e4384.  DOI: 10.7717/peerj.4384

Thursday, March 15, 2018

[Herpetology | Microbiology • 2018] Widespread Elevational Occurrence of Antifungal Bacteria in Andean Amphibians Decimated by Disease: A Complex Role for Skin Symbionts in Defense Against Chytridiomycosis

FIGURE 1. Representative amphibian hosts and their habitats sampled for this study:
(A,B) Hypsiboas gladiator is non-susceptible to chytridiomycosis and lays aquatic eggs in streamside basins along montane streams in the cloud forest; (C,D) Psychrophrynella usurpator is non-susceptible and lays terrestrial eggs that undergo direct development under mosses in the high-Andean grassland; (E,F) Telmatobius marmoratus is highly susceptible to chytridiomycosis and lays aquatic eggs in small, high-Andean streams.
Photographs by A. Catenazzi.

in Catenazzi, Flechas, Burkart, et al. 2018.

Emerging infectious disease is a growing threat to global health, and recent discoveries reveal that the microbiota dwelling on and within hosts can play an important role in health and disease. To understand the capacity of skin bacteria to protect amphibian hosts from the fungal disease chytridiomycosis caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), we isolated 192 bacterial morphotypes from the skin of 28 host species of frogs (families Bufonidae, Centrolenidae, Hemiphractidae, Hylidae, Leptodactylidae, Strabomantidae, and Telmatobiidae) collected from the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes (540–3,865 m a.s.l.) in the Kosñipata Valley near Manu National Park, a site where we previously documented the collapse of montane frog communities following chytridiomycosis epizootics. We obtained isolates through agar culture from skin swabs of wild frogs, and identified bacterial isolates by comparing 16S rRNA sequences against the GenBank database using BLAST. We identified 178 bacterial strains of 38 genera, including 59 bacterial species not previously reported from any amphibian host. The most common bacterial isolates were species of Pseudomonas, Paenibacillus, Chryseobacterium, Comamonas, Sphingobacterium, and Stenotrophomonas. We assayed the anti-fungal abilities of 133 bacterial isolates from 26 frog species. To test whether cutaneous bacteria might inhibit growth of the fungal pathogen, we used a local Bd strain isolated from the mouthparts of stream-dwelling tadpoles (Hypsiboas gladiator, Hylidae). We quantified Bd-inhibition in vitro with co-culture assays. We found 20 bacterial isolates that inhibited Bd growth, including three isolates not previously known for such inhibitory abilities. Anti-Bd isolates occurred on aquatic and terrestrial breeding frogs across a wide range of elevations (560–3,695 m a.s.l.). The inhibitory ability of anti-Bd isolates varied considerably. The proportion of anti-Bd isolates was lowest at mid-elevations (6%), where amphibian declines have been steepest, and among hosts that are highly susceptible to chytridiomycosis (0–14%). Among non-susceptible species, two had the highest proportion of anti-Bd isolates (40 and 45%), but one common and non-susceptible species had a low proportion (13%). In conclusion, we show that anti-Bd bacteria are widely distributed elevationally and phylogenetically across frog species that have persisted in a region where chytridiomycosis emerged, caused a devastating epizootic and continues to infect amphibians.

Keywords: 16S rRNA gene, amphibian declines, amphibian skin bacteria, antifungal bacteria, elevational gradient, montane diversity gradient, neotropical, tropical Andes

We found that anti-Bd bacteria are widely distributed across bacterial phyla and genera, occur along a wide elevational range in the Amazon to Andes transition, and are found on amphibian hosts that use aquatic, terrestrial and arboreal environments. The pattern of elevational distribution of anti-Bd isolates, and the association of high proportion of anti-Bd isolates of high inhibitory strength with low host susceptibility to disease, support the idea that symbiotic bacteria play a functional role in amphibian skin defense. Yet this association does not consistently explain the fate of amphibian hosts along the elevational gradient, suggesting complex interactions among bacterial symbionts, hosts, and environmental factors in determining frog persistence in a region of high disease prevalence.

Alessandro Catenazzi, Sandra V. Flechas, David Burkart, Nathan D. Hooven, Joseph Townsend and Vance T. Vredenburg. 2018. Widespread Elevational Occurrence of Antifungal Bacteria in Andean Amphibians Decimated by Disease: A Complex Role for Skin Symbionts in Defense Against Chytridiomycosis. Front. Microbiol., DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00465

[Hexapoda • 2018] Isotomurus festus • A New Member of the Genus Isotomurus from the Kuril Islands (Collembola: Isotomidae): Returning to the Problem of “Colour Pattern Species”

Isotomurus festus
Potapov, Porco & Deharveng, 2018


Colour pattern is the most common character to identify species in several large genera of Collembola. Its use often raises problems due to various and poorly investigated extent of chromatic variability among species. Isotomurus festus sp. nov. is here described from Kunashir Isl. (the Kuriles, the Far East of Russia). The species, a member of the ‘antennalis’ group, is characterized by the lack of trichobothria and slender claws, but is greatly variable in coloration. DNA barcoding (COI) results supports that all the colour forms encountered belong to the same species. While colour pattern has been shown to be the most reliable character for species identification in several Entomobryidae genera, it might not be the case in Isotomurus Börner, 1903, the sole large Isotomidae genus where colour pattern is routinely used for taxonomy.

Keywords: Collembola, the Far East, hydrophilic, colour pattern, barcoding, taxonomy, polymorphism

Mikhail Potapov, David Porco and Louis Deharveng. 2018. A New Member of the Genus Isotomurus from the Kuril Islands (Collembola: Isotomidae): Returning to the Problem of “Colour Pattern Species”. Zootaxa. 4394(3); 383–394. DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4394.3.4

[Botany • 2018] Passiflora kumandayi • A New Species (Passifloraceae) from the Colombian Andes in A New Section within Subgenus Decaloba

Passiflora kumandayi M.A. Buitrago A. & Coca

in Buitrago A., MacDougal & Coca, 2018. 

A new species of passion flower from the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes is here described; Passiflora kumandayi M.A. Buitrago A. & Coca (subgenus Decaloba, supersection Auriculata). This species, along with five other closely related Andean species, comprise a monophyletic group characterized by paired branched inflorescences and small flowers with short or absent androgynophores. A provisional key to the species in the newly described section Apodae is presented. Passiflora kumandayi is here illustrated and its affinities with related species are discussed based on morphology and phylogenetic binning analysis using molecular site weight calibration.

Keywords: Passiflora, section Apodae, subgenus Decaloba, Colombia, Molecular Site Weight Calibration, Eudicots

María Alejandra Buitrago A., John M. MacDougal and Luis Fernando Coca. 2018. Passiflora kumandayi (Passifloraceae), A New Species from the Colombian Andes in A New Section within Subgenus DecalobaPhytotaxa. 344(1); 13–23. DOI:  10.11646/phytotaxa.344.1.2

[Herpetology • 2018] Rediscovery and a Redescription of the Crooked-Acklins Boa, Chilabothrus schwartzi (Buden, 1975)

Chilabothrus schwartzi  (Buden, 1975)

in Reynolds, Puente-Rolón, Burgess & Baker, 2018. 
DOI:  10.3099/MCZ46.1 

The Crooked-Acklins Bank, a component of the southern Bahamas Archipelago, supports a terrestrial herpetofauna largely in common with other islands in the region, including a boid snake. This boa, Chilabothrus chrysogaster schwartzi (Buden, 1975), was considered a subspecies of the Southern Bahamas Boa complex (Chilabothrus chrysogaster), although the original description was based on limited specimen material. As the author of the original description used recently deceased specimens collected by locals, no description of living animals exists. Since its description in 1975 and the associated collection of four type specimens, no additional boas from Crooked-Acklins have been reported in the literature. In addition, to the best of our knowledge, no photographs of live specimens have been published, and no juveniles have been described. For these reasons, it has been suggested that the subspecies is either extremely rare or possibly extirpated from the bank. Here we report the first four living boas from the Crooked-Acklins Bank, including both juveniles and an adult. We present the first photographs of and morphological data from live wild specimens, including habitat descriptions and natural history observations. We conducted a phylogenetic analysis of these boas using maximum-likelihood and Bayesian approaches, as well as divergence time analyses, finding that the Crooked-Acklins Boa is a distinct species sister to the recently described Silver Boa (C. argentum), and is not closely related to C. chrysogaster populations. The distinctness of this taxon is also supported by known morphological and meristic characters. We describe the species as the Crooked-Acklins Boa, elevating the epithet C. schwartzi (Buden, 1975) comb. nov. to refer to boas of this genus from the Crooked and Acklins banks, Bahamas—the 13th species of Chilabothrus. We further assess the systematics of the Southern Bahamas Boa (C. chrysogaster) and the central Bahamas boas (C. strigilatus, C. argentum, and C. schwartzi) with novel sequence data for these lineages.

Keywords: Boidae, Caribbean, Chilabothrus, mtDNA, phylogenetics, systematics

Chilabothrus schwartzi (Buden, 1975) comb. nov. 
Crooked-Acklins Boa

Figure 6. A, close-up view of the head of a juvenile Chilabothrus schwartzi. Photo by Joseph P. Burgess.
Bin-situ photo of a juvenile Cschwartzi as discovered. Photo by Alberto R. Puente-Rolón.

R. Graham Reynolds, Alberto R. Puente-Rolón, Joseph P. Burgess and Brian O. Baker. 2018. Rediscovery and a Redescription of the Crooked-Acklins Boa, Chilabothrus schwartzi (Buden, 1975), Comb. Nov. Breviora. 558; 1-16.  DOI:  10.3099/MCZ46.1


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

[Herpetology • 2018] Scolecoseps broadleyi • A New Species of Scolecoseps (Reptilia: Scincidae) from coastal north-eastern Mozambique

 Scolecoseps broadleyi
Verburgt, Verburgt & Branch, 2018

Seven specimens of Scolecoseps Loveridge, 1920 from the vicinity of Palma on the north coast of Mozambique are compared morphologically with other known material of this genus. The new material can be distinguished morphologically from all other Scolecoseps by the presence and position of certain head scales, particularly a supraciliary and four small suboculars, a small mental and high subcaudal counts. It is described as a new species, Scolecoseps broadleyi sp. nov. The new species is found in coastal savannah habitat under leaf litter of Berlinia orientalis trees, in sandy soils in close proximity to large wetlands. Its currently known distribution is south of the range of Scolecoseps litipoensis Broadley, 1995 and north of that of Scolecoseps boulengeri Loveridge, 1920. We provide a review of the available literature for the genus Scolecoseps and highlight the necessity for additional research on these poorly known fossorial skinks.

KEYWORDS: arenosols, coastal savannah habitat, fossorial, sandy soils, skinks

Scolecoseps broadleyi sp. nov.; Paratype, PEM R22698, showing head shields

Scolecoseps broadleyi sp. nov. 

Etymology— Named in honour of Donald George Broadley in recognition of his numerous contributions to African herpetology. Don assisted greatly with the description of this new species. 

Figure 3 .Scolecoseps broadleyi sp. nov.
A) Holotype, NMZB 17985 in life and B) ventral view after preservation;
 C) Paratype, PEM R22697 in life and D) Paratype, PEM R22698, showing head shields. 

Luke Verburgt, Ursula K. Verburgt and William R. Branch. 2018. A New Species of Scolecoseps (Reptilia: Scincidae) from coastal north-eastern Mozambique. African Journal of Herpetology. DOI: 10.1080/21564574.2017.1413014

[Botany • 2018] Didymocarpus puhoatensis • A New Species (Gesneriaceae) from Vietnam

Didymocarpus puhoatensis X.Hong & F.Wen

in Hong, Li, Maciejewski, Wen & Do. 2018. 

Didymocarpus puhoatensis, a new species from Vietnam is described and illustrated with photographs. The new species is morphologically similar to D. brevicalyx and D. epithemoides, but can be easily distinguished by a combination of characters. So far, five species have been recorded in the genus Didymocarpus from Vietnam.

Keywords: Didymocarpus, Gesneriaceae, plant taxonomy, Vietnam

Figure 1. Didymocarpus puhoatensis X.Hong & F.Wen
A Habitat B Adaxial surface view of leaf blade C Adaxial surface view of leaf blade D Cyme with flowers, showing the bracts E Lateral view of corolla, showing the calyx consisting of a tube. 

Figure 2. Flower of Didymocarpus puhoatensis X.Hong & F.Wen
 A–B Frontal view of corolla, showing the disc-like stigma C Top view of corolla D Upward view of corolla E Opened corolla, showing stamens and staminodes F Pistils without corolla.

Didymocarpus puhoatensis X.Hong & F.Wen, sp. nov.

Diagnosis: Although it is morphologically similar to D. brevicalyx, it differs by stem densely pubescent, orbicular purple bracts, apices of calyx lobes obtuse, filaments glabrous, staminodes 2; and also similar to D. epithemoides, but differs from the latter in having purple calyx, funnel-form corolla, 4–5 cm long, glabrous, dark purple-blackish, ovary glandular puberulent.

Etymology: The specific epithet is derived from the type locality, Pu Hoat Nature Reserve, Nghệ An Province, Vietnam.

Distribution and habitat: This new taxon is an endemic species from Pu Hoat Nature Reserve of Vietnam. The species grows on limestone rocks in tropical monsoon forest with sufficient seasonal run-off water, at an elevation of 390 m a.s.l. It distributes much lower in altitude and the habitat is much hotter and more humid than other species with stems of the genus.

 Xin Hong, Zhen-Long Li, Stephen Maciejewski, Fang Wen and Truong Van Do. 2018. Didymocarpus puhoatensis (Gesneriaceae), A New Species from Vietnam. In: Jin X-H, Shui Y-M, Tan Y-H, Kang M (Eds) Plant Diversity in Southeast Asia. PhytoKeys. 94; 87-93.  DOI: 10.3897/phytokeys.94.21650