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Waalre, Netherlands

Bogaerts S.,Lupinelaan 25 | Pasmans F.,Ghent University | Carranza S.,Institute of Evolutionary Biology CSIC UPF CMIMA | Bohme W.,Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig
Herpetology Notes

Salamandra algira is patchily distributed from north-western Morocco to eastern Algeria. Its occurrence in Tunisia is under debate. In order to examine the presence of S. algira in Tunisia, three field trips were made to suitable habitats in the Medjerda mountains in north-eastern Tunisia. Additionally, phenotypic and morphological examinations of "Tunisian" S. algira museum specimens originating from the ZFMK, Germany, were carried out. No indications for the presence of S. algira in Tunisia were found during the field trips. The ZFMK specimens of Salamandra algira turned out to be most likely middle or eastern European Salamandra salamandra. These results do not support earlier statements on the presence of the species in Tunisia. Source

Rodder D.,Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig | Rodder D.,University of Trier | Lotters S.,University of Trier | Oz M.,Akdeniz University | And 3 more authors.
Organisms Diversity and Evolution

Within the framework of the present study we test whether climatic niche similarity can be identified in a monophyletic group of species inhabiting remarkably restricted ranges by pooling presence data of all species into a single concatenated data set and subsequently jackknifing single species. We expect that, when the jackknifed species differs markedly in its climatic niche from all other species, this approach will result in increased niche homogeneity, allowing assessments of niche divergence patterns. To test our novel jackknife approach, we developed species distribution models for all members of Lycian salamanders (genus Lyciasalamandra), native to Turkey and the adjacent Aegean islands using Maxent. Degrees of niche similarity among species were assessed using Schoener's index. Significance of results was tested using null-models. The degree of niche similarity was generally high among all seven species, with only L. helverseni differing significantly from the others. Carstic lime stones providing specific microhabitat features may explain the high degree of niche similarity detected, since the variables with the highest explanative power in our models (i.e. mean temperature, and precipitation of the coldest quarter) corresponded well with salamander natural history observations, supporting the biologically plausibility of the results. We conclude that the jackknife approach presented here for the first time allows testing for niche similarity in species inhabiting restricted ranges and with few species records available. Our results strongly support the view that detailed natural history information and knowledge of microhabitats is crucial when assessing possible climate change impacts on species. © Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2011. Source

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.

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. Source

Bogaerts S.,Lupinelaan 25 | Sparreboom M.,Naturalis Biodiversity Center | Pasmans F.,Ghent University | Almasri A.,Biodiversity Laboratory | And 3 more authors.

The distribution, ecology and conservation status of the Syrian urodeles Salamandra infraimmaculata and Ommatotriton vittatus are poorly known. We present the results of a field study, conducted in February 2009. Salamandra infraimmaculata was found at six localities, ranging from 228 to 960 m a.s.l., and co-occurred with O. vittatus at three localities. All localities were near small, clear streams or springs. Temperatures ranged from 9.4 to 16.4°C, pH 7.5-8.5, GH 3-18 and KH 3-18. The distribution model of S. infraimmaculata reveals that the distribution of this species is nearly entirely shaped by precipitation in the coldest quarter "92.9% contribution to the model". The rarity of suitable surface waters is probably the main reason for the supposed scarcity of this species in northwestern Syria. Tapping a water source for drinking water resulted in one case in extensive mortality of larvae. Ommatotriton vittatus was found at nine different localities, ranging from 172 to 960 m a.s.l. Habitat characteristics, water quality and morphological data were recorded. The average total length of adult O. vittatus was 116 mm (range 93-138 mm, n = 22) for males and 93 mm (range 86-108 mm, n = 34) for females. Mean weight was 6.7 g for males and 3.9 for females. The mean body condition index of females was comparable to that of males. Water temperatures ranged from 8.7 to 14.6°C, pH 7.5-8.5, GH 3-18 and KH 3-18. The distribution model of O. vittatus reveals that the distribution of this species is mainly shaped by precipitation, both during the winter and summer periods. The collection of large numbers of adult O. vittatus for fish bait was observed. © 2013 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Herpetologie und Terrarienkunde e.V. (DGHT). Source

Thien T.N.,Vietnam National Museum of Nature | Martel A.,Ghent University | Brutyn M.,Ghent University | Bogaerts S.,Lupinelaan 25 | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine

Until now, Asian amphibians appear to have largely escaped declines driven by chytridiomycosis. Vietnamese salamanders that belong to the genus Tylototriton are rare and have a patchy distribution in mountainous areas, falling within the proposed environmental envelope of chytrid infections, surrounded by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infected regions. If these salamanders are susceptible to chytridiomycosis, then their populations could be highly vulnerable after the introduction of B. dendrobatidis. Examination for the presence of the chytrid fungus in skin swabs from 19 Tylototriton asperrimus and 104 Tylototriton vietnamensis by using quantitative polymerase chain reaction was performed. Susceptibility of T. asperrimus to experimental infection by using the global panzootic lineage (BdGPL) strain of B. dendrobatidis was examined. The fungus was absent in all samples from all wild salamanders examined. Inoculation with the BdGPL strain resulted in mortality of all five inoculated salamanders within 3 weeks after inoculation with infected animals that manifested severe orthokeratotic hyperkeratosis, epidermal hyperplasia, and spongiosis. Although infection by B. dendrobatidis currently appears absent in Vietnamese Tylototriton populations, the rarity of these animals, their pronounced susceptibility to chytridiomycosis, an apparently suitable environmental context and increasing likelihood of the pathogen being introduced, together suggest the need of urgent measures to avoid future scenarios of extinction as witnessed in Central America and Australia. © American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. Source

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