Integration of nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences and morphology reveals unexpected diversity in the forest cobra (Naja melanoleuca) species complex in Central and West Africa (Serpentes: Elapidae)
Zootaxa 4455 (1): 068–098. http://www.mapress.com/j/zt/. ISSN1175-5334(online edition).
Cobras are among the most widely known venomous snakes, and yet their taxonomy remains incompletely understood, particularly in Africa. Here, we use a combination of mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences and morphological data to diagnose species limits within the African forest cobra, Naja (Boulengerina) melanoleuca. Mitochondrial DNA sequences reveal deep divergences within this taxon. Congruent patterns of variation in mtDNA, nuclear genes and mor-phology support the recognition of five separate species, confirming the species status of N. subfulva and N. peroescobari, and revealing two previously unnamed West African species, which are described as new: Naja (Boulengerina) guineensis sp. nov. Broadley, Trape, Chirio, Ineich & Wüster, from the Upper Guinea forest of West Africa, and Naja (Boulengerina) savannula sp. nov. Broadley, Trape, Chirio & Wüster, a banded form from the savanna-forest mosaic of the Guinea and Sudanian savannas of West Africa. The discovery of cryptic diversity in this iconic group highlights our limited under-standing of tropical African biodiversity, hindering our ability to conserve it effectively.
Knaurs Kontinente in Farben: Afrika.
298 Seiten, mit 128 einfarbigen und 102 mehrfarbigen Fotos sowie 19 Karten.
Übersetzt und bearbeitet von Margarete Auer.
Verlag Droemer Knaur
Larger Carnivores of the African Savannas.
X + 274 Seiten. E-Book https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-662-03766-9
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999. DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-03766-9
The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus has had a long association with man, but its first contact with humans was actually in India and on the plains of southern Africa. Because of their speed and hunting prowess, captive cheetahs have been used by man as food hunters for many centuries. The oldest record of a captive cheetah is depicted on a decorated silver vase from a Scythian burial site at Maikop in the Caucasus Range, which shows the cheetah wearing a collar. This vase dates back to approximately 700 to 300 BC. However, it is likely that early man joined other scavengers in robbing cheetahs of their kills long before the Maikop culture. In doing so, these early hunters probably exploited the cheetah’s relative timidity, daytime hunting habits, and also its open plains habitat. The Moghul Emperor Akbar the Great is also said to have kept up to 3000 cheetahs to hunt antelope, while sketches of a Dionysian procession in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy II from 309 to 246 BC show a cheetah on a leash. Even before the ancient Assyrian empire in Mesopotamia and during the reign of the pharaohs in Egypt, captive cheetahs were used for coursing game. During the fifth century and the early Renaissance in Italy cheetahs were also employed for this purpose. Despite its timidity, the ancient Egyptians endowed the cheetah with the spirit of courage, but today it is regarded more as a symbol of elusive grace in a declining wilderness than as a fierce hunter.
Current and potential geographical distribution of Platymeris biguttatus (Linnaeus, 1767) with description of nymphs.
Zoological studies 54(9). DOI: 10.1186/s40555-014-0092-5
Background: The description of Platymeris biguttatus (Linnaeus 1767) nymphal instars as well as the prediction of the potentially suitable ecological niche was the main goal of this study. Our research was based on 258 specimens of P. biguttatus species of museum collections. A set of 23 environmental predictor variables covering Africa was used at ecological niche modeling - a method performed using the Maxent software to prepare potential distribution maps for this species.
Results: The results suggested the most suitable areas seen as potentially suitable ecological niche for P. biguttatus in Africa. A jackknife test showed that temperature seasonality and percentage of tree cover were among the most important environmental variables affecting the distribution of the species. The analysis of climate preferences shows that most of the potentially suitable niches for this species were located in the area of tropical savanna climate, with a small participation of tree vegetation.
Conclusions: P. biguttatus was only known to be widely distributed in the tropical part of continental Africa. Thanks to the ecological niche modeling methods and the museum data on the occurrence of the species, we introduced new information about potentially suitable ecological niches and the possible range of distribution.
Contribution to the systematics and zoogeography of the East–African Acomys spinosissimus Peters 1852 species complex and the description of two new species (Rodentia: Muridae).
Zootaxa 3059: 1–35 (2011). www.mapress.com/zootaxa/
We revised the taxonomic status of the putative Acomys spinosissimus complex based on the comparative study of specimen collections from Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, DR Congo and South Africa, by means of analysis of external morphology, craniometry, enzymes, mitochondrial DNA sequences and karyology. Our results confirm that A. spinosissimus represents a complex of species with seemingly non-overlapping distribution ranges. The distribution range of A. spinosissimus appears to be restricted between the Zambesi and Limpopo Rivers, while the reinstated A. selousi (that includes A. transvaalensis) occurs further to the South (i.e. northern limit seemingly just north of the Limpopo River). The investigated populations north of the Zambezi River are morphologically and genetically distinct from A. spinosissimus and A. selousi. Based on this evidence, we described Acomys muzei sp. nov. and Acomys ngurui sp. nov., each one occurring separately along one side of the Eastern Arc Mountains. Finally, we lacked sufficient information to describe a third new species from the area north of the Zambesi River.
A review of the genus Popa Stål 1856 (Insecta Mantodea).
Tropical Zoology 8: 257-267.
It is suggested that Mantis undata Fabricius 1793 does not belong to the genus Popa Stål 1856 as believed until now, but to the Indian genus Ambivia Stål1877 (n. comb.). The systematic position of the species of Popa is re-examined and a single species, Popa spurca Stål 1856 ( = P. undata auct. nec Fabricius) is recognised. The species is differentiated into two subspecies, one being Popa spurca spurca Stål 1856 ( = P. stuhlmanni Rehn 1914, P. batesi Sauss. & Zehnt. 1895) (n. syn.) widespread throughout all Africa south of the Sahara, except in the east which is populated by the other subspecies, P. spurca crassa (Giglio-Tos 1917).
Abundance and life cycle of Zonocerus variegatus (Orthoptera: Pyrgomorphidae) in the humid forest zone of southern Cameroon.
Entomological Science, 9: 23–30. doi:10.1111/j.1479-8298.2006.00150.x
Weekly captures from January 2000 to January 2002 enabled us to study the abundance and life cycle of the variegated grasshopper, Zonocerus variegatus (Orthoptera: Pyrgomorphidae), in the humid forest zone of Southern Cameroon. We found that Z. variegatus was present throughout the year in the forest reserve and the human-influenced zones of Yaounde and Mbalmayo in two univoltine populations, which had unequal abundance and durations. The separation of the two populations was clearer in the Yaounde and Mbalmayo developed zones than in the Mbalmayo forest reserve (undeveloped zone). The abundance of Z. variegatus varied according to the post-embryonic stage, sex, year and season. Hatching and coupling took place during the dry and rainy seasons, whereas oviposition occurred only in the rainy season. In Cameroon, the type of life cycle of Z. variegatus observed in the humid forest zone of the south is different from that of the “Sudanian and Sahelian” zones.
Dusted off - The African Amietophrynus superciliaris-species complex of giant toads.
Zootaxa 2772: 1–32 (2011). www.mapress.com/zootaxa
Amietophrynus superciliaris is known to occur in rain forests from West Africa to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon. We herein present morphological and molecular data indicating the existence of three distinct taxa. The name A. superciliaris superciliaris is restricted to toads from the western Lower Guinean Forest (eastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon). We resurrect A. s. chevalieri for the Upper Guinean forest (Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Ivo-ry Coast, Ghana) and describe a new species occurring in the eastern part of the Lower Guinean Forest (eastern Demo-cratic Republic of Congo). Amietophrynus channingi sp. nov. from eastern Lower Guinean Forest differs from both other taxa by its brownish lateral coloration (reddish-purple in the other taxa). The new species differs morphologically from western Lower Guinean A. s. superciliaris by a less pointed eyelid process, a dark coloured posterior abdominal region and a dark coloured vertebral line (both absent in A. s. superciliaris), the shape of the parotid glands (bulged and rounded at the posterior tip in the new species, slender drop shaped and pointed at the posterior tip in A. s. superciliaris), and ju-venile interorbital markings (V-shaped in the new species, usually interrupted and broken in A. s. superciliaris). Amietophrynus channingi sp. nov. differs from the Upper Guinean A. s. chevalieri by the presence of an eyelid process (absent in A. s. chevalieri), presence of a dark vertebral line and a pair of dark spots on the posterior part of the back (both absent in A. s. chevalieri). The Upper Guinean A. s. chevalieri differs from western Lower Guinean A. s. superciliaris by the absence of an eyelid process, a dark coloured posterior abdominal region (absent in A. s. superciliaris) and lacking a pair of dark spots in the posterior part of the back (present in A. s. superciliaris). The new species differs from both other taxa by 2.2–2.8% in the investigated 16S rRNA gene. West African and western Central African populations differ by only 0.9–1.1% in 16S rRNA, lacking any intra-taxon variation within each clade, and are cautiously regarded as subspecies although the genetic distinction is mirrored by strong morphological differences and distinct geographic distribution which may support its elevation to species status once that more comprehensive data become available. A key to the taxa of the A. superciliaris-species complex is provided.
Dusted off - The African Amietophrynus superciliaris-species complex of giant toads (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230555620_Dusted_off_-_The_African_Amietophrynus_superciliaris-species_complex_of_giant_toads [accessed Dec 06 2017].
List of the reptiles and batrachians collected by Mr. H. H. Johnston on the Rio del Rey, Cameroons District, W. Africa.
Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1887: 564–565.
The identity of the South African toad Sclerophrys capensis Tschudi, 1838 (Amphibia, Anura).
PeerJ 4(e1553): 1–13.
The toad species Sclerophrys capensis Tschudi, 1838 was erected for a single specimen from South Africa which has never been properly studied and allocated to a known species. A morphometrical and morphological analysis of this specimen and its comparison with 75 toad specimens referred to five South African toad species allowed to allocate this specimen to the species currently known as Amietophrynus rangeri. In consequence, the nomen Sclerophrys must replace Amietophrynus as the valid nomen of the genus, and capensis as the valid nomen of the species. This work stresses the usefulness of natural history collections for solving taxonomic and nomenclatural problems.