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Tallahassee, FL, United States

Jungfer K.-H.,Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia | Faivovich J.,Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia | Faivovich J.,University of Buenos Aires | Padial J.M.,Section of Amphibians and Reptiles | And 24 more authors.
Zoologica Scripta | Year: 2013

Spiny-backed tree frogs of the genus Osteocephalus are conspicuous components of the tropical wet forests of the Amazon and the Guiana Shield. Here, we revise the phylogenetic relationships of Osteocephalus and its sister group Tepuihyla, using up to 6134 bp of DNA sequences of nine mitochondrial and one nuclear gene for 338 specimens from eight countries and 218 localities, representing 89% of the 28 currently recognized nominal species. Our phylogenetic analyses reveal (i) the paraphyly of Osteocephalus with respect to Tepuihyla, (ii) the placement of 'Hyla' warreni as sister to Tepuihyla, (iii) the non-monophyly of several currently recognized species within Osteocephalus and (iv) the presence of low (<1%) and overlapping genetic distances among phenotypically well-characterized nominal species (e.g. O. taurinus and O. oophagus) for the 16S gene fragment used in amphibian DNA barcoding. We propose a new taxonomy, securing the monophyly of Osteocephalus and Tepuihyla by rearranging and redefining the content of both genera and also erect a new genus for the sister group of Osteocephalus. The colouration of newly metamorphosed individuals is proposed as a morphological synapomorphy for Osteocephalus. We recognize and define five monophyletic species groups within Osteocephalus, synonymize three species of Osteocephalus (O. germani, O. phasmatus and O. vilmae) and three species of Tepuihyla (T. celsae, T. galani and T. talbergae) and reallocate three species (Hyla helenae to Osteocephalus, O. exophthalmus to Tepuihyla and O. pearsoni to Dryaderces gen. n.). Furthermore, we flag nine putative new species (an increase to 138% of the current diversity). We conclude that species numbers are largely underestimated, with most hidden diversity centred on widespread and polymorphic nominal species. The evolutionary origin of breeding strategies within Osteocephalus is discussed in the light of this new phylogenetic hypothesis, and a novel type of amplexus (gular amplexus) is described. © 2013 The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.


Kok P.J.R.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Kok P.J.R.,Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Sciences | Means D.B.,Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy | Bossuyt F.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Zootaxa | Year: 2011

A new strabomantid frog of the genus Pristimantis Jimènez de la Espada, 1871 is described from the Eastern Pantepui Region, Guiana Shield, northern South America. The new species, Pristimantis aureoventris sp. nov., is known so far from two neighbouring tepuis, namely Wei Assipu Tepui (type locality) at the border between Guyana and Brazil and Mount Roraima in Guyana, and occurs between 2210-2305 m elevation. The new taxon is distinguished from all known congeners by the following combination of characters: Finger I < II; tympanum distinct; basal webbing between Toes IV-V; broad lateral fringes on fingers and toes; ventral skin areolate; vocal slits absent in male; two non-spinous whitish nup-tial pads and vocal sac present in male; high degree of pattern polymorphism; throat, chest, and belly golden yellow, usu-ally with reddish brown to dark brown mottling; internal organs little or not visible through the ventral skin in life. The call of the new species consists of bouts of a single amplitude-modulated (decreasing to the end) note repeated at a rate of ca. 18 notes/min with a dominant frequency ranging from 2180 to 2430 Hz. Copyright © 2011 Magnolia Press.


Kok P.J.R.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Kok P.J.R.,Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Sciences | Ratz S.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Tegelaar M.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | And 2 more authors.
Salamandra | Year: 2015

We describe a new hylid species of the genus Tepuihyla from Pantepui, northeastern South America. The new species inhabits the Chimantá Massif, Bolívar state, Venezuela. The new species is likely part of a recent non-adaptive radiation, and was confused for more than a decade with T. edelcae, a morphologically similar species occurring on the summit of Auyán-tepui, Bolívar state, Venezuela. The new species is mainly distinguished from known congeners by phylogenetic data, as well as a medium size (37.1 mm maximum SVL in males, 38.4 mm maximum SVL in females), diameter of eye greater than distance from nostril to eye, skin on dorsum smooth in females, with scattered, fine, white-tipped spicules in males, skin on flanks smooth to faintly granular, presence of a pale labial stripe and a dark band or stripe from nostril to eye, a dorsal ground colour from pale grey to dark brown, usually suffused with small to minute dark brown or black markings, no transverse bars on limbs, rear of thighs patternless, axillary membrane poorly developed, breeding males with conspicuous, usually black, nuptial pads extending beyond thenar tubercle, iris dark brown to copper with gold flecks and sometimes fine dark brown reticulation, and white limb bones. The new species inhabits open, mostly flat areas on tepui summits, between ca 1,800 and 2,600 m altitude, where it is intimately associated with carnivorous bromeliads of the genus Brocchinia. The species breeds in deep pools in marshy areas and small shallow rocky pools; its tadpole and advertisement call are described. The IUCN conservation status of the new species is considered Least Concern (LC) because population size still seems relatively large, the species occurs in a number of locations, and is apparently not declining fast enough to qualify for any of the threat categories. Differentiation in morphological, acoustic, and genetic traits of species endemic to tepui summits are briefly discussed. Finally, Tepuihyla rimarum is considered a junior synonym of T. rodriguezi. © 2015 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Herpetologie und Terrarienkunde e.V. (DGHT), Mannheim, Germany.


Noss R.F.,University of Central Florida | Platt W.J.,Louisiana State University | Sorrie B.A.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Weakley A.S.,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | And 3 more authors.
Diversity and Distributions | Year: 2015

Biodiversity hotspots are conservation priorities. We identify the North American Coastal Plain (NACP) as a global hotspot based on the classic definition, a region with > 1500 endemic plant species and > 70% habitat loss. This region has been bypassed in prior designations due to misconceptions and myths about its ecology and history. These fallacies include: (1) young age of the NACP, climatic instability over time and submergence during high sea-level stands; (2) climatic and environmental homogeneity; (3) closed forest as the climax vegetation; and (4) fire regimes that are mostly anthropogenic. We show that the NACP is older and more climatically stable than usually assumed, spatially heterogeneous and extremely rich in species and endemics for its range of latitude, especially within pine savannas and other mostly herbaceous and fire-dependent communities. We suspect systematic biases and misconceptions, in addition to missing information, obscure the existence of similarly biologically significant regions world-wide. Potential solutions to this problem include (1) increased field biological surveys and taxonomic determinations, especially within grassy biomes and regions with low soil fertility, which tend to have much overlooked biodiversity; (2) more research on the climatic refugium role of hotspots, given that regions of high endemism often coincide with regions with low velocity of climate change; (3) in low-lying coastal regions, consideration of the heterogeneity in land area generated by historically fluctuating sea levels, which likely enhanced opportunities for evolution of endemic species; and (4) immediate actions to establish new protected areas and implement science-based management to restore evolutionary environmental conditions in newly recognized hotspots. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Kok P.J.R.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Kok P.J.R.,Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Sciences | MacCulloch R.D.,Royal Ontario Museum | Means D.B.,Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy | And 3 more authors.
Current Biology | Year: 2012

The Pantepui region of South America, located in southern Venezuela, northern Brazil, and western Guyana, is characterized by table mountains (tepuis) made of Proterozoic (> 1.5 billion years old) sandstone - the highest reaching nearly 3 km - that are isolated from their surroundings by up to 1000 m high vertical cliffs (Figure 1A). Tepuis are among the most inaccessible places on earth (Supplemental information), and the majority of their summits have been visited less than the moon. Due to its age and topography [1,2], this region has been assumed to be an ideal nursery of speciation and a potential inland counterpart to oceanic islands [3,4]. High endemism has been reported for the flora (25% in vascular plants) and fauna (68.5% in amphibians and reptiles) of single tepuis [5,6], and an ancient origin has been postulated for some of these organisms. But, it has also been suggested that a few taxa living in habitats extending from lowlands to summits (e.g., savannah) invaded some of the more accessible tepuis only recently [6-8]. Taken at face value, the overall timing and extent of biotic interchange between tepui summits has remained unstudied. Here, we show that recent faunal interchange among currently isolated tepui summits has been extensive, and affected even taxa living in some of the most tepui-specific habitats and on the most inaccessible summits. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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