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Herrel A.,University of Paris Descartes | Huyghe K.,CSIC - National Museum of Natural Sciences | Okovic P.,State Institute for Nature Protection | LisicIc D.,University of Zagreb | Tadic Z.,University of Paris Descartes
Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology | Year: 2011

Body size has a pervasive effect on animal functioning and life history with size dependent changes in performance and physiology throughout ontogeny being common in many ectothermic vertebrates. However, as selection on juvenile life history stages is strong, juveniles often offset the disadvantages of small body size by disproportionate levels of performance. Here, we investigate size-related changes in defensive strike performance in an arboreal pit viper, Trimerusurus (Cryptelytrops) albolabris. Our data show a significant negative allometry in the scaling of head dimensions and head mass to body mass. However, strike velocity and strike distance are independent of body mass, with juveniles in our sample striking as fast and as far as adults. In contrast to model predictions suggesting that acceleration capacity should decrease with increasing body mass, acceleration capacity increases with snake body mass. Our results suggest that this is the result of a negative allometric scaling of head mass combined with an isometric scaling of the dorsal epaxial musculature. Finally, our data show a significant sexual dimorphism in body size and strike velocity with females being heavier and striking faster independent of the dimorphism in body size. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company.

Pecarevic M.,Columbia University | Pecarevic M.,State Institute for Nature Protection | Danoff-Burg J.,Columbia University | Dunn R.R.,North Carolina State University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Each year, a larger proportion of the Earth's surface is urbanized, and a larger proportion of the people on Earth lives in those urban areas. The everyday nature, however, that humans encounter in cities remains poorly understood. Here, we consider perhaps the most urban green habitat, street medians. We sampled ants from forty-four medians along three boulevards in New York City and examined how median properties affect the abundance and species richness of native and introduced ants found on them. Ant species richness varied among streets and increased with area but was independent of the other median attributes measured. Ant assemblages were highly nested, with three numerically dominant species present at all medians and additional species present at a subset of medians. The most common ant species were the introduced Pavement ant (Tetramorium caespitum) and the native Thief ant (Solenopsis molesta) and Cornfield ant (Lasius neoniger). The common introduced species on the medians responded differently to natural and disturbed elements of medians. Tetramorium caespitum was most abundant in small medians, with the greatest edge/area ratio, particularly if those medians had few trees, whereas Nylanderia flavipes was most abundant in the largest medians, particularly if they had more trees. Many of the species encountered in Manhattan were similar to those found in other large North American cities, such that a relatively small subset of ant species probably represent most of the encounters humans have with ants in North America. © 2010 Pećarević et al.

Temunovic M.,University of Zagreb | Franjic J.,University of Zagreb | Satovic Z.,University of Zagreb | Grgurev M.,State Institute for Nature Protection | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Tree species with wide distributions often exhibit different levels of genetic structuring correlated to their environment. However, understanding how environmental heterogeneity influences genetic variation is difficult because the effects of gene flow, drift and selection are confounded. We investigated the genetic variation and its ecological correlates in a wind-pollinated Mediterranean tree species, Fraxinus angustifolia Vahl, within a recognised glacial refugium in Croatia. We sampled 11 populations from environmentally divergent habitats within the Continental and Mediterranean biogeographical regions. We combined genetic data analyses based on nuclear microsatellite loci, multivariate statistics on environmental data and ecological niche modelling (ENM). We identified a geographic structure with a high genetic diversity and low differentiation in the Continental region, which contrasted with the significantly lower genetic diversity and higher population divergence in the Mediterranean region. The positive and significant correlation between environmental and genetic distances after controlling for geographic distance suggests an important influence of ecological divergence of the sites in shaping genetic variation. The ENM provided support for niche differentiation between the populations from the Continental and Mediterranean regions, suggesting that contemporary populations may represent two divergent ecotypes. Ecotype differentiation was also supported by multivariate environmental and genetic distance analyses. Our results suggest that despite extensive gene flow in continental areas, long-term stability of heterogeneous environments have likely promoted genetic divergence of ashes in this region and can explain the present-day genetic variation patterns of these ancient populations. © 2012 Temunović et al.

Urosevic A.,University of Belgrade | Ljubisavljevic K.,University of Belgrade | Jelic D.,State Institute for Nature Protection | Ivanovic A.,University of Belgrade
Zoology | Year: 2012

We used geometric morphometrics to explore the influence of phylogenetic and allometric constraints as well as ecology on variation in cranium shape in five species of monophyletic, morphologically similar Podarcis lizards (Podarcis erhardii, Podarcis melisellensis, Podarcis muralis, Podarcis sicula and Podarcis taurica). These species belong to different clades, they differ in their habitat preferences and can be classified into two distinct morphotypes: saxicolous and terrestrial. We found (i) no phylogenetic signal in cranium shape, (ii) diverging allometric slopes among species, and (iii) a significant effect of habitat on cranium shape. The saxicolous species (P. erhardii and P. muralis) had crania with elongated parietals, elongated cranium bases, shortened anterior parts of the dorsal cranium, reduced chambers of the jaw adductor muscles and larger subocular foramina. These cranial features are adaptations that compensate for a flattened cranium, dwelling on vertical surfaces and seeking refuge in crevices. The crania of the terrestrial species (P. melisellensis, P. sicula and P. taurica) tended to be more elongate and robust, with enlarged chambers of the jaw adductor muscle, reduced skull bases and shortened parietals. Terrestrial species exhibited more variation in cranium shape than saxicolous species. Our study suggests that shape variation in Podarcis sp. lizards is largely influenced by ecology, which likely affects species-specific patterns of static allometry. © 2012 Elsevier GmbH.

Jelic D.,State Institute for Nature Protection
Natura Croatica | Year: 2010

The Sand Lizard, Lacerta agilis Linnaeus, 1758, is a species very widely distributed in Croatia. Erythronotus coloration morphs are known to appear very often in different parts of Central and Eastern Europe, but were never recorded in Croatia. In this paper the author describes the first record of this color morph in a male individual collected in the vicinity of Donji Miholjac (Northeastern Croatia) during research in 2006.

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