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Zinenko O.,University of Kharkiv | Stumpel N.,Staatliches Naturhistorisches Museum Braunschweig | Mazanaeva L.,Dagestan State University | Bakiev A.,Russian Academy of Sciences | And 12 more authors.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution

The phylogeny and historical demography of small Eurasian vipers of the Vipera ursinii and V. renardi complexes were studied using mitochondrial DNA sequences analysed with Bayesian inference, Maximum Likelihood and Maximum Parsimony approaches, and mismatch distributions. Diversification in the group resulted from an initial dispersion in the later Pliocene - Pleistocene in two directions: north-westwards via the Balkans (V. ursinii complex) and north-eastwards from Asia Minor via the Caucasus (V. renardi complex). An independent, comparatively recent transition occurred from montane habitats to lowland grasslands in different mitochondrial lineages during the Late Pleistocene, when representatives of the both complexes had reached lowland steppes to the north. Effective population size showed clear signs of rapid growth in eastern V. renardi, triggered by colonization of vast lowland steppes, but in western V. ursinii complex grew during the Last Glaciation and experienced stabilization in Holocene. Expansion and population growth in lowland lineages of V. renardi was not strongly affected by Pleistocene climatic oscillations, when cold, dry conditions could have favoured species living in open grasslands. The high diversity of closely related haplotypes in the Caucasus and Tien-Shan could have resulted from repetitive expansion-constriction-isolation events in montane regions during Pleistocene climate fluctuations. The mitochondrial phylogeny pattern conflicts with the current taxonomy. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. Source

Skorinov D.V.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Doronin I.V.,Russian Academy of Sciences | Kidov A.A.,Russian State Agricultural University | Tuniev B.S.,Federal State Institution Sochi National Park | Litvinchuk S.N.,Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Journal of Herpetology

In Russia, Lissotriton lantzi was recorded in 178 localities in nine provinces and authonomous republics. This species also inhabits the Southern Caucasus in the territory of Georgia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia (57 localities). The Caucasian newt is possibly extinct in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey. We developed a species distribution model based on climate and land cover data for identification of suitable habitats. Two variables (precipitation of warmest quarter and altitude) accounted for 84% of the predicted range. The newt is listed in the Red Data Book of Russian Federation and the majority of Red Data books of the North Caucasus provinces and autonomous republics. Main factors influencing the decline of L. lantzi populations are destruction and reconstruction of suitable water bodies, catching for pet trade, deforestation and introduction of fishes. © 2014 Folium Publishing Company. Source

Tuniyev S.B.,Federal State Institution Sochi National Park | Iremashvili G.N.,I. Javaxishvili str. and 8 | de las Heras B.,Mikel Zarate | Tuniyev B.S.,Federal State Institution Sochi National Park
Russian Journal of Herpetology

The paper discusses the findings of Pelias darevskii (Vedmederja, Orlov et Tuniyev, 1986) on the territory of South Georgia (Javakheti Ridge and Erusheti Mountains and Akhaltsihe Highland). Comparative analysis of edafotops, an altitudinal spread, list of flora and vegetation in the Darevsky’s viper biotopes in Georgia, Armenia and Turkey was done. It is suggested a broader area of the species in these countries, refined the type locality of Darevsky’s viper and considered the cause of the misunderstanding. © 2014 Folium Publishing Company. Source

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