Braunschweig, Germany
Braunschweig, Germany

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Lansari A.,Cadi Ayyad University | Hugemann K.,TU Braunschweig | Hauswaldt J.S.,TU Braunschweig | Donaire D.,Asociacion Herpetologica Fretum Gaditanum | And 16 more authors.
Amphibia Reptilia | Year: 2014

Painted frogs (Discoglossus) contain five to six species of Western Palearctic anurans that are mainly distributed in allopatry. We here provide the first comprehensive assessment of the phylogeography of the Moroccan species D. scovazzi and geographically characterize its contact zone with D. pictus in Eastern Morocco. Discoglossus scovazzi shows, in general, a weak phylogeographic structure across Morocco on the basis of mitochondrial DNA sequences of the cytochrome b gene, with only populations centered in the Atlas Mountains characterized by the presence of slightly divergent haplotypes. In eastern Morocco, all populations east of the Moulouya River were clearly assignable to D. pictus. This species was also found along the Mediterranean coast west of the Moulouya, in the cities of Nador and Melilla, suggesting that not the river itself but the wide arid valley extending along much of the river (except close to the estuary) acts as a possible distributional barrier to these frogs. No sympatry of D. scovazzi with D. pictus was observed, and all specimens were concordantly assigned to either species by DNA sequences of cytochrome b and of the nuclear marker RAG1. Species distribution models of the two taxa show largely overlapping areas of suitable habitat, and the two species' niches are significantly more similar than would be expected given the underlying environmental differences between the regions in which they occur. Comparative data are also presented from the southern Iberian contact zone of D. galganoi galganoi and D. g. jeanneae. These taxa showed less clear-cut distributional borders, extensively shared RAG1 haplotypes, and had instances of sympatric occurrence on the basis of cytochrome b haplotypes, in agreement with the hypothesis of a yet incomplete speciation. In this wide contact zone area we found mitochondrial sequences containing double peaks in electropherograms, suggesting nuclear pseudogenes or (less likely) heteroplasmy, possibly related to the ongoing admixture among the lineages. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2014.


Lansari A.,Cadi Ayyad University | Vences M.,TU Braunschweig | Hauswaldt S.,TU Braunschweig | Hendrix R.,TU Braunschweig | And 5 more authors.
Amphibia Reptilia | Year: 2015

We assessed the genetic variation of 47 Moroccan populations of the North African water frog ( Pelophylax saharicus) using partial sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene (COI). All 239 samples belonged to the main haplotype clade previously identified from Morocco, with no haplotypes of the Algerian/Tunisian clades among our samples. Altogether 40 haplotypes were found, with a maximum of 13 mutational steps between them. Two weakly divergent haplogroups separated by a minimum of six mutational steps were distributed (i) in the Anti-Atlas and the Sahara (south of the High Atlas Mountains) versus (ii) in the Middle Atlas, the High Atlas, and in the Rif area north of the Atlas Massif. Haplotypes of the northern haplogroup were found at the southernmost locality, which might be due to human translocation, and co-occurrence of the two haplogroups was recorded at three sites within the range of the northern haplogroup. © 2015 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Fischer V.,University of Liège | Fischer V.,Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Sciences | Maisch M.W.,University of Liège | Naish D.,University of Portsmouth | And 8 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Background: Ichthyosauria is a diverse clade of marine amniotes that spanned most of the Mesozoic. Until recently, most authors interpreted the fossil record as showing that three major extinction events affected this group during its history: one during the latest Triassic, one at the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary (JCB), and one (resulting in total extinction) at the Cenomanian-Turonian boundary. The JCB was believed to eradicate most of the peculiar morphotypes found in the Late Jurassic, in favor of apparently less specialized forms in the Cretaceous. However, the record of ichthyosaurs from the Berriasian-Barremian interval is extremely limited, and the effects of the end-Jurassic extinction event on ichthyosaurs remains poorly understood. Methodology/Principal Findings: Based on new material from the Hauterivian of England and Germany and on abundant material from the Cambridge Greensand Formation, we name a new ophthalmosaurid, Acamptonectes densus gen. et sp. nov. This taxon shares numerous features with Ophthalmosaurus, a genus now restricted to the Callovian-Berriasian interval. Our phylogenetic analysis indicates that Ophthalmosauridae diverged early in its history into two markedly distinct clades, Ophthalmosaurinae and Platypterygiinae, both of which cross the JCB and persist to the late Albian at least. To evaluate the effect of the JCB extinction event on ichthyosaurs, we calculated cladogenesis, extinction, and survival rates for each stage of the Oxfordian-Barremian interval, under different scenarios. The extinction rate during the JCB never surpasses the background extinction rate for the Oxfordian-Barremian interval and the JCB records one of the highest survival rates of the interval. Conclusions/Significance: There is currently no evidence that ichthyosaurs were affected by the JCB extinction event, in contrast to many other marine groups. Ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaurs remained diverse from their rapid radiation in the Middle Jurassic to their total extinction at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous. © 2012 Fischer et al.


Merabet K.,University of Abderrahmane Mira de Béjaïa | Sanchez E.,TU Braunschweig | Dahmana A.,University of Abderrahmane Mira de Béjaïa | Bogaerts S.,Lupinelaan 25 | And 6 more authors.
Amphibia Reptilia | Year: 2016

The North African fire salamander, Salamandra algira, is distributed in Algeria, Morocco and Ceuta (Spanish territory located on the north coast of Africa), but until now rather limited information has been available on the populations across the Algerian part of its range. We here provide a first analysis of the phylogeography of this species in Algeria, based on 44 samples from populations distributed across 15 localities in Central Algeria. We sequenced three segments of mitochondrial DNA, covering 12S rRNA, cytochrome b (Cytb) and the D-loop. The mtDNA sequences of the Algerian samples were strongly different from the Moroccan populations occurring west of the Moulouya River (corresponding to the subspecies S. a. tingitana and S. a. splendens) but sister to the genetically rather similar population from the Beni Snassen Massif in eastern Morocco (subspecies S. algira spelaea). Among the Algerian specimens studied, those from the westernmost site, Chrea Massif, were the sister clade to the remaining populations, and the overall genetic divergence was low, with a maximum of five mutational steps in a 295 bp fragment of cytochrome b. © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2016.


Bshaena I.,University of Tripoli | Joger U.,Staatliches Naturhistorisches Museum
Amphibia Reptilia | Year: 2014

New findings from two Central Libyan oases extend the distribution area of the Saharan gecko Tarentola neglecta considerably to the East. Scale counts falling outside the range of the two known subspecies show that the new specimens belong to a third subspecies which is described here under the name Tarentola neglecta lanzai. A molecular phylogeny with mitochondrial genes presents further evidence that T. neglecta is the sister species of the Egyptian T. mindiae, both of which constitute a monophyletic clade within the T. fascicularis-deserti group. © 2013 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden.

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