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Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

de Pous P.,University of Lleida | de Pous P.,Institute of Evolutionary Biology CSIC UPF | Beukema W.,Society for the Preservation of Herpetological Diversity | Beukema W.,University of Twente | And 4 more authors.
Basic and Applied Herpetology | Year: 2012

The Moroccan spadefoot toad (Pelobates varaldii) has received little scientific attention since its discovery. Currently, P. varaldii is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List due to a multitude of threats, while its distribution is partially unknown and fragmented. The current study addresses distribution, threats and the potential niche using ecological niche modelling, while emphasizing conservation strategies and immediate actions. The distribution of P. varaldii can be divided into four disjunct areas, at least two of which consist of small populations. The largest threats to P. varaldii include the transformation of habitat and breeding ponds into agricultural and industrial areas, the pollution of breeding ponds due to extensive livestock pasturing and the possible expansion of Procambarus sp. into the Mamora cork oak forest. Additional threats constitute a reduction of gene flow and loss of genetic variability as a result of habitat fragmentation. The ecological niche models (ENMs) of P. varaldii revealed fundamental environmental conditions along parts of the northeast Moroccan Atlantic and Mediterranean coastline. The species mainly inhabits well vegetated areas upon Quaternary soils at low altitudes. Proposed conservation actions include the development of a biannual monitoring program, identification and designation of protected areas within the distribution and development of a management plan for Mamora forest.

De Pous P.,Institute of Evolutionary Biology CSIC UPF | De Pous P.,University of East Anglia | Mora E.,Institute of Evolutionary Biology CSIC UPF | Metallinou M.,Institute of Evolutionary Biology CSIC UPF | And 5 more authors.
Amphibia Reptilia | Year: 2011

The genetic variability and the potential distribution under past (Last Glacial Maximum; LGM (MIROC and CCSM simulations)) and present conditions were studied for the anguid Hyalosaurus koellikeri, using analyses of two mitochondrial (ND1 and ND2) and one nuclear (PRLR) gene and species distribution modelling (SDM) including 19 geographical coordinates, covering most of its distribution range. Unexpectedly, the genetic results show that H. koellikeri presents a very low level of variability both in the mitochondrial and nuclear genes studied. The present predicted distribution of H. koellikeri revealed a large potential distribution in both north and eastwards directions, with suitable areas predicted in places where the species has never been reported before, as for instance the Rif Mountains in Morocco, as well as into most parts of northern Algeria and Tunisia. The LGM distribution is even larger compared to the present, with a continuous predicted distribution from Morocco to Tunisia, and even into Libya under the MIROC simulation. The results of the genetic and SDM analyses suggest that the now isolated populations from Debdou and Tlemcen have probably been in contact during the LGM, but its absence from both present and past predicted suitable areas is still a mystery. Hyalosaurus koellikeri depends mainly on closed deciduous forests (typically Cedrus atlantica and Quercus sp.) and open deciduous shrubland with high amounts of annual rainfall. The results of this study and the absence of recent sightings of the species outside the core distribution might indicate a regression of the species. Hence, a reevaluation of the conservation status of the species seems warranted. © 2011 Brill Academic Publishers.

Beukema W.,University of Evora | De Pous P.,University of Lleida | De Pous P.,Institute of Evolutionary Biology CSIC UPF | Donaire-Barroso D.,Calle Mar Egeo 7 | And 6 more authors.
Zootaxa | Year: 2013

The amphibian fauna of the Kingdom of Morocco was traditionally regarded as poor and closely related to its European counterpart. However, an increase in research during the last decades revealed a considerable degree of endemism amongst Moroccan amphibians, as well as phenotypic and genotypic inter- and intraspecific divergence. Despite this increase in knowledge, a comprehensible overview is lacking while several systematic issues have remained unresolved. We herein present a contemporary overview of the distribution, taxonomy and biogeography of Moroccan amphibians. Fourteen fieldtrips were made by the authors and colleagues between 2000 and 2012, which produced a total of 292 new distribution records. Furthermore, based on the results of the present work, we (i) review the systematics of the genus Salamandra in Morocco, including the description of a new subspecies from the Rif- and Middle Atlas Mountains, Salamandra algira splendens ssp. nov.; (ii) present data on intraspecific morphological variability of Pelobates varaldii and Pleurodeles waltl in Morocco; (iii) attempt to resolve the phylogenetic position of Bufo brongersmai and erect a new genus for this species, Barbarophryne gen. nov.; (iv) summarize and assess the availability of tadpole-specific characteristics and bioacoustical data, and (v) summarize natural history data. Copyright © 2013 Magnolia Press.

Beukema W.,Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences | De Pous P.,Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences | Donaire D.,Calle Mar Egeo 7 | Escoriza D.,University of Girona | And 5 more authors.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2010

The opening of the Gibraltar land bridge occurred at the end of the Messinian Salinity Crisis approximately 5.3 Mya, and was one of the main causes of vicariance between European and north-west African amphibians, resulting in the origin of several new species. However, little is currently known about the causes for post-Messinian amphibian differentiation in the Maghreb, although it is acknowledged that the Pleistocene glaciations probably had considerable influence on several species. The current study uses both species distribution modelling (MAXENT) and information from a total of 694 bp of mitochondrial data (351 from cytochrome b and 342 from 12S rRNA) from 36 representatives of all three recognized subspecies of Moroccan Salamandra to infer the phylogeny and biogeography of Salamandra algira tingitana, which is characterized by both viviparous and ovoviviparous populations. According to the results, the split between S. a. tingitana and S. a. algira from the Rif and Middle Atlas mountains took place approximately 1.6 Mya, and could have been caused by a shift towards a colder and drier climate that occurred during the upper Pliocene, which may have resulted in the isolation of Salamandra at increasingly higher altitudes, or in other climatically favourable areas. Several lineages within S. a. tingitana originated during the Pleistocene climatic oscillations, one of which gave rise to the viviparous populations north of the Oued Martil. It is suggested that the origin of viviparity in S. a. tingitana occurred during the last 600 000 years. In order to further understand the origin of the unique viviparous population of S. algira from North Africa, predictive distribution models of the viviparous and ovoviviparous populations of S. a. tingitana were created using MAXENT to assess environmental differences. Niche divergence was subsequently determined using Schoener's D and Warren et al.'s I niche similarity metrics. Predictive modelling and niche divergence analyses revealed significant environmental differences between the two reproductive types, which could have influenced the transition from ovoviviparity to viviparity. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Barth A.,TU Braunschweig | Barth A.,University Estadual Of Santa Cruz | Galan P.,University of La Coruna | Donaire D.,Calle Mar Egeo 7 | And 4 more authors.
Amphibia Reptilia | Year: 2011

Based on DNA sequences of fragments of the mitochondrial COI and 16S rRNA genes we provide a first assessment of genetic variability of Iberian treefrog populations that have been historically allocated to Hyla arborea, partly as subspecies H. a. molleri. Our data from 147 specimens and 33 populations confirm strong divergence between these frogs and Central European H. arborea but relatively low differentiation across their range, supporting their status as a separate species, H. molleri. Preliminary phylogeographic data indicate a possible weak genetic differentiation of populations from the northern coast of the region of Galicia. We suggest inclusion of nuclear markers and an extension of the sampling into the coastal regions of Asturias and Cantabria, as well as the identification of the contact zone between H. molleri and H. arborea in either the Spanish Basque country or in France, as priorities for future research on this species. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011.

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