Dresden, Germany
Dresden, Germany

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Dressler C.,Museum fur Tierkunde | Beutel R.G.,Institute For Spezielle Zoologie Und Evolutionsbiologie
Arthropod Systematics and Phylogeny | Year: 2010

The adult heads of representatives of different adephagan families - aquatic, semiaquatic and terrestrial - were examined and compared. External and internal structures were described and documented in detail for the genera Trachypachus (Trachypachidae), Haliplus (Haliplidae), Amphizoa (Amphizoidae) and the recently discovered Aspidytes (Aspidytidae). A list of characters of potential phylogenetic relevance was compiled and the data matrix combined with the large data set of thoracic and abdominal features for different life stages. The cladistic analysis of this comprehensive data matrix of 138 characters for 16 taxa covering all adephagan families led to one most parsimonous tree. The monophyly of the Geadephaga (Trachypachidae + Carabidae) is strongly supported. The Gyrinidae are the sistergroup of all remaining adephagan beetles. The Meruidae are sister to the Dytiscoidea and both together form the sistergroup of the Haliplidae. The sistergroup relationship of Aspidytidae and Amphizoidae is confirmed. The placement of Meruidae is impeded by the lack of larval characters. It may change when information on structural features of immature stages becomes available. The Trachypachidae, a small relict family with its greatest diversity and distribution in the early Mesozoic, probably come close to the last common ancestor of the Adephaga in the structural features of the adult head. They share structural similarities with the aquatic Dytiscoidea and the terrestrial Carabidae. It is hypothesized that the common ancestor of Adephaga had a relatively unspecialised head morphology and was a predator, possibly with a preference for a riparian habitat. Adaptations for an aquatic environment evolved at least two times and possibly even three times independently. Within these lineages a great diversity of different life styles developed such as the highly specialised surface gliding Gyrinidae, the hygropetric Aspidytidae, the strongly miniaturised Meruidae or the algophagous Haliplidae. © Museum für Tierkunde Dresden.


Eberhard M.J.B.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Picker M.D.,University of Cape Town | Klass K.-D.,Museum fur Tierkunde
Organisms Diversity and Evolution | Year: 2011

We describe a new genus of Mantophasmatodea, Viridiphasma gen. n. (Austrophasmatidae), represented by one new species, V. clanwilliamense sp. n. The new species differs from previously described species in features of the male and female postabdomen including the genitalia, in morphometrics and details of colouration. The new species occurs syntopically with another austrophasmatid, Karoophasma biedouwense Klass et al., 2003; this is the first well-documented case of sympatry of two mantophasmatodean species. We therefore survey the morphological differences between these two species, document the absence of any morphological evidence of hybridisation, and also report on differences in life history. While a previous molecular phylogeny using COI and 16S genes ambiguously placed V. clanwilliamense sp. n. near the base of Austrophasmatidae (but not as sister to all other Austrophasmatidae), morphological characters strongly support V. clanwilliamense sp. n. to be the sister taxon of a clade comprising all remaining Austrophasmatidae. This phylogenetic placement challenges the current hypothesis of a linear north-to-south diversification of Austrophasmatidae. © 2011 Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik.


Dressler C.,Museum fur Tierkunde | Ge S.-Q.,CAS Institute of Zoology | Beutel R.G.,Institute For Spezielle Zoologie Und Evolutionsbiologie
Systematic Entomology | Year: 2011

Larval characters of Meru were extracted from the recently published description and added to an extensive data matrix from an earlier study on the phylogenetic position of the genus and family. The results confirm the earlier postulated clade Meruidae + Noteridae with strong support. The larvae share several characteristics with noterid larvae, notably the specific head shape, with the greatest width close to the foramen occipitale, the fissure-shaped posterior tentorial grooves at the posterior margin of the head capsule and the anteriorly cleft prementum. From a formal point of view, it would be justified to treat Meru as a subgroup of Noteridae (if the larva is properly identified). We refute the placement of Meruidae as a sister group of the remaining Dytiscoidea (including Noteridae). The new larval characters are valuable and informative, but a small set of external features is not sufficient for a reliable placement of Meruidae. © 2011 The Authors. Systematic Entomology © 2011 The Royal Entomological Society.


Mende M.B.,Museum fur Tierkunde | Hundsdoerfer A.K.,Museum fur Tierkunde
BMC Evolutionary Biology | Year: 2013

Background: Mitochondrial genes are among the most commonly used markers in studies of species' phylogeography and to draw conclusions about taxonomy. The Hyles euphorbiae complex (HEC) comprises six distinct mitochondrial lineages in the Mediterranean region, of which one exhibits a cryptic disjunct distribution. The predominant mitochondrial lineage in most of Europe, euphorbiae, is also present on Malta; however, it is nowadays strangely absent from Southern Italy and Sicily, where it is replaced by 'italica'. A separate biological entity in Italy is further corroborated by larval colour patterns with a congruent, confined suture zone along the Northern Apennines. By means of historic DNA extracted from museum specimens, we aimed to investigate the evolution of the mitochondrial demographic structure of the HEC in Italy and Malta throughout the Twentieth Century. Results: At the beginning of the Twentieth Century, the European mainland lineages were also present at a moderate frequency in Southern Italy and Sicily. The proportion of 'italica' then steadily increased in this area from below 60 percent to near fixation in about 120 years. Thus, geographical sorting of mitochondrial lineages in the HEC was not as complete then as the current demography suggests. The pattern of an integral 'italica' core region and a disjunct euphorbiae distribution evolved very recently. To explain these strong demographic changes, we propose genetic drift due to anthropogenic habitat loss and fragmentation in combination with an impact from recent climate warming that favoured the spreading of the potentially better adapted 'italica' populations. Conclusions: The pattern of geographically separated mitochondrial lineages is commonly interpreted as representing long term separated entities. However, our results indicate that such a pattern can emerge surprisingly quickly, even in a widespread and rather common taxon. We thus caution against drawing hasty taxonomic conclusions from biogeographical patterns of mitochondrial markers derived from modern sampling alone. © 2013 Mende and Hundsdoerfer; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


The craniometric variability of wildcats from the Harz Mountains in Germany is described for the first time on the basis of a sample from the zoological collection at the University Halle-Wittenberg. 59 linear measurements, 8 parameters derived from them, the body measurements, and 12 qualitative characters were used. Differences to domestic cats from Eastern Germany are given and discussed in comparison to differences between wildcats and domestic cats in the Carpathians. The wildcats and domestic cats studied here differ significantly in 36 cranial measurements, 7 of the derived parameters, and four body measurements. The wildcats are larger than the domestic cats. In the present study the coefficient of difference is ≥ 1.0 for cranial volume, cranial index, intestine length, intestine index, length of M 1, length of P 3 and distance between foramen ovale and foramen lacerum. The variables width of nasal, height and width of nasal cavity, cranial height, width across maxillar bone at canines, distance between upper canines, rostrum breadth, distance of anterior rim of lateral depression of palatine to anterior rim of bulla, length of bulla, width of P 4 and length of P 2-P 4 do not differ significantly between wildcats and domestic cats. The data from the wildcats in the Harz are very similar to comparable data from the literature for wildcats from Thuringia and also to those from the Carpathians. Wildcats from the Carpathians, however, show larger ranges and a higher variability in several variables. Especially the higher values for cranial volumes are difficult to explain. The wildcats from the Carpathians could be slightly larger or show slightly different proportions in the skull, but the little comparable data do not allow reasoning in this direction. It is possible that the sample from the Harz does not include enough very old specimens, which might shift the ranges to higher values for some variables. But this is not enough to explain the large difference in cranial volume. Thus due to the isolation of the Harz wildcat population interbreeding with domestic cats and introgression of domestic cat characters have to be considered. The sexual dimorphism of wildcats and domestic cats is well supported.


Rodel M.-O.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Barej M.F.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Hillers A.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Leache A.D.,University of Washington | And 16 more authors.
Zootaxa | Year: 2012

Astylosternus laticephalus sp. nov. Rödel, Hillers, Leaché, Kouamé, Ofori-Boateng, Diaz & Sandberger is described from eastern Ivory Coast and western and central Ghana, and compared to Astylosternus occidentalis Parker, 1931 from the western part of the Upper Guinea forest zone (western Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone). Based on a comprehensive sample, including specimens from the entire range, the latter species is re-described. The new species is characterized by a body shape typical for frogs of the genus Astylosternus, but has an exceptionally broad head, i.e. broader than in A. occidentalis. The basic dorsal pattern of A. laticephalus sp. nov. consists of a brownish to brownish red colouration with distinct red dots (red dots are only rarely present in A. occidentalis). The new species has bicoloured eyes with the lower part of the iris being grey, the upper third of the iris is orange to red (A. occidentalis always has a uniform greyish iris). Males of the new species lack spines on the throat, belly (always present in A. occidentalis males), and a layer of black nuptial skin in the pectoral region (present in male A. occidentalis from western Guinea). Astylosternus laticephalus sp. nov. differs from A. occidentalis by a mean pairwise genetic distance of 3.2% in the investigated part of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene. Genetic divergence to the morphologically most similar Central African species, A. diadematus, was 11.9%. We briefly discuss the phylogenetic position of West African Astylosternus, hint on the possibility that the genus might be paraphyletic and discuss the biogeography of West African Astylosternus, in particular with respect to forest cover fluctuations in the past. Copyright © 2012.


The grass snake (Natrix natrix) is one of the most widely known and most common snakes in Europe. However, genetically grass snakes are understudied. The subspecies classification is very controversial and is mainly based on morphological differences such as body proportions, coloration and size. According to previous authors, 4 to 14 different subspecies are recognized. In addition to the common grass snake, some authors recognized the big-headed grass snake (N. megalocephala) from the Caucasus region as a distinct species. In a recently published paper (Kindler et al. 2013) we have analyzed two mitochondrial genes of 410 grass snake samples. In the present paper we summarize in German language the results of this recently published investigation. Together with previously published allozyme and morphological data our results lead to the conclusion that the big-headed grass snake is not valid. Moreover, only a few of the currently recognized subspecies match with mitochondrial differentiation. It was entirely unexpected that almost everywhere in Central Europe the area of the subspecies N. n. natrix corresponds to a contact zone of two different mitochondrial lineages. © Laurenti-Verlag, Bielefeld,.


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.


PubMed | University of Palermo and Museum fur Tierkunde
Type: | Journal: Folia parasitologica | Year: 2016

Endemic Sicilian pond turtles Emys trinacris Fritz, Fattizzo, Guicking, Tripepi, Pennisi, Lenk, Joger et Wink were examined for the presence of haemogregarine parasites. The presence of haemogregarines, occurring mainly in the microgametocyte stage (13.2 0.12 m in length and 6.4 0.52 m in width), was observed in approximately 9% of the sampled E. trinacris. Based on the observed morphology and on the sequencing of nuclear 18S rDNA, we identified the parasite as Haemogregarina stepanowi Danilewsky, 1885. Morphometric study of uninfected and infected red blood cells has shown that H. stepanowi induces different changes in erythrocyte shape depending on the infective stage. The differential count of leukocytes in specimens infected with H. stepanowi showed no significant difference compared with healthy specimens. However, considering the health problems which might be induced by H. stepanowi in the closely related European pond turtle Emys orbicularis (Linneaus), monitoring of the health status of the infected Sicilian populations of E. trinacris is desirable. The restricted distribution of populations of Emys infected with haemogregarines in Sicily is quite puzzling and the possible human-mediated introduction of the parasite in Sicily is briefly discussed.

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