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  1. We report on the longest body length record for the Philippine Pit Viper, Trimereserus flavomaculatus.
  2. The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of vertebrates contains a series of organs beginning with the mouth and ending with the anus or cloacal opening. Each organ represents a unique environment for resident microorganisms. Due to their simple digestive anatomy, snakes are good models for studying microbiome variation along the GIT. Cloacal sampling captures the majority of the microbial diversity found in the GIT of snakes—yet little is known about the oral microbiota of snakes. Most research on the snake mouth and gut microbiota are limited to studies of a single species or captive-bred individuals. It therefore remains unclear how a host’s life history, diet, or evolutionary history correlate with differences in the microbial composition within the mouths and guts of wild snakes. We sampled the mouth and gut microbial communities from three species of Asian venomous snakes and utilized 16S rRNA microbial inventories to test if host phylogenetic and ecological differences correlate with distinct microbial compositions within the two body sites. These species occupy three disparate habitat types: marine, semi-arboreal, and arboreal, our results suggest that the diversity of snake mouth and gut microbial communities correlate with differences in both host ecology and phylogeny.
  3. Recent studies have highlighted the underestimated diversity of the genus Diploderma Hallowell, 1861 in the Hengduan Mountain Region in Southwest China, but much of the region remains poorly surveyed for reptile diversity. In this study we describe two new species of Diploderma from the upper Jinsha and middle Yalong River Valley, based on evaluations of morphological, genetic, and distribution data. The two new species are morphologically most similar to D. angustelinea and D. vela, but they can be diagnosed from both recognized taxa and all remaining congeners by a suite of morphological features, particularly the distinct coloration of gular spots. Additionally, both new species either render other recognized species paraphyletic or are allopatric with respect to their morphologically similar congeners. Furthermore, we rediscover D. brevicaudum in the wild for the first time, which was known from historical museum specimens only. We estimate the phylogenetic position of D. brevicaudum within the genus Diploderma based on mitochondrial genealogy, and we provide an expanded diagnosis and comparisons against closely related congeners and provide a detailed description of coloration in life based on newly collected specimens. Our discoveries of the new Diploderma species further highlight the urgent conservation needs of the currently neglected hot-drymore »valley ecosystems in the Hengduan Mountain Region of China.« less
  4. We describe a new species of frog of the genus Platymantis Günther (subgenus Tirahanulap), from the east-central regions of the Philippines. It belongs to the the previously-defined P. hazelae Group) based on morphological and bioacoustic datasets. The new species is phenotypically and ecologically most similar to members of Tirahanulap, an assemblage of small-bodied arboreal frogs inhabiting montane forests of the central and northern islands of the Philippine archipelago. The new species represents the first taxon in the Cloud Frog species known from the biogeographically unique Mindanao Pleistocene Aggregate Island Complex. Particularly susceptible to local extirpation following deforestation, all known species of Tirahanulap are important indicator species for environmental and conservation assessments, making this new species not only an exceptional addition to Philippine biodiversity but also an important symbol for conservation initiatives in the region.
  5. The taxonomic validity of the controversial taxon, Amolops nepalicus Yang, 1991, is evaluated based on the examination of its holotype, along with topotypic A. marmoratus (Blyth, 1855) and A. afghanus (Günther, 1858), and other related congeners. Morphological comparison shows the holotype of A. nepalicus differs from its senior synonym A. marmoratus and all recognized species, supporting its valid species status. We provide a detailed redescription of the holotype based on a robust morphometric dataset and expanded comparisons with recognized congeners from the Pan-Himalayas and Southeast Asia. In addition, we discuss the remaining suspicious records of A. cf. afghanus in Nepal and China based on available specimens, and comment on the validity of two remaining junior synonyms of A. marmoratus, namely Ixalus argus Annandale, 1912 and Rana latopalmata Boulenger, 1882, suggesting that they may represent subjective synonyms of A. gerbillus (Annandale, 1912) and A. panhai Matsui and Nabhitabhata, 2006, respectively.