Saturday, December 31, 2016

[Ornithology • 2017] Improved Sampling at the Subspecies Level Solves A Taxonomic Dilemma - A Case Study of Two Enigmatic Chinese Tit Species (Passeriformes, Paridae, Poecile)

• Increased density of subspecific taxon sampling and complementary biometric analysis clarifies sister species relationships in tits.
• Our genetic assignment of type specimens proves a sister group relationship between P. weigoldicus and P. montanus.
• We refute the hypothesis of a close relationship between P. montanus and P. hypermelaenus who is sister to P. palustris.
• Haplotype distribution suggests mitochondrial introgression among P. hypermelaenus and Eastern Palearctic P. palustris.
P. songarus is paraphyletic and treatment as a separate species does not conform to various species concepts.
• Patterns of biometric and genetic differentiation are congruent in P. palustris but not in P. montanus.

A recent full species-level phylogeny of tits, titmice and chickadees (Paridae) has placed the Chinese endemic black-bibbed tit (Poecile hypermelaenus) as the sister to the Palearctic willow tit (P. montanus). Because this sister-group relationship is in striking disagreement with the traditional affiliation of P. hypermelaenus close to the marsh tit (P. palustris) we tested this phylogenetic hypothesis in a multi-locus analysis with an extended taxon sampling including sixteen subspecies of willow tits and marsh tits. As a taxonomic reference we included type specimens in our analysis. The molecular genetic study was complemented with an analysis of biometric data obtained from museum specimens. Our phylogenetic reconstructions, including a comparison of all GenBank data available for our target species, clearly show that the genetic lineage previously identified as P. hypermelaenus actually refers to P. weigoldicus because sequences were identical to that of a syntype of this taxon. The close relationship of P. weigoldicus and P. montanus – despite large genetic distances between the two taxa – is in accordance with current taxonomy and systematics. In disagreement with the previous phylogenetic hypothesis but in accordance with most taxonomic authorities, all our P. hypermelaenus specimens fell in the sister clade of all western and eastern Palearctic P. palustris. Though shared haplotypes among the Chinese populations of the two latter species might indicate mitochondrial introgression in this part of the breeding range, further research is needed here due to the limitations of our own sampling.

Keywords: Poecile hypermelaenus; Poecile weigoldicus; multi-locus phylogeny; phylogeography; DNA barcoding

(A) Genetic and morphological diversification in willow tits and allies; distribution of COI barcode haplotypes from the minimum spanning network; colours indicate distinct haplotype clusters; drawings, K. Rehbinder, Mainz  

(A) Genetic and morphological diversification in willow tits and allies; distribution of COI barcode haplotypes from the minimum spanning network; colours indicate distinct haplotype clusters; drawings, K. Rehbinder, Mainz; (B) multilocus phylogeny (ND2, myoglobin, ODC) of Poecile tits, colours of willow tit clades according to mtDNA lineages shown in (A); (C) type specimen of Parus weigoldicus Kleinschmidt 1921, toe pad tissue used for genetic analysis.  

 Christian Tritsch, Jochen Martens, Yue-Hua Sun, Wieland Heim, Patrick Strutzenberger and Martin Päckert. 2017. Improved Sampling at the Subspecies Level Solves A Taxonomic Dilemma - A Case Study of Two Enigmatic Chinese Tit Species (Aves, Passeriformes, Paridae, PoecileMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. In Press. DOI:  10.1016/j.ympev.2016.12.014


[Ichthyology • 2016] Rasbora ataenia • A New Freshwater Fish from Kerala, India

Rasbora ataenia 
Plamoottil, 2016 

 Taxonomic analysis of five specimens of a cyprinid fish collected from Alappuzha, Kerala, India revealed that they present several taxonomic differences from their congeners. The new species, Rasbora ataenia, is diagnosed by a combination of the following characters: dorsal fin with seven branched rays, anal fin with five branched rays, body slender and without any lateral color stripe, head deeper and snout shorter.

Keywords: Taxonomy, New description, Cyprinids, Rasbora dandia, Alappuzha.


Etymology: Feminine Latin noun 'taenia' meaning ribbon or band; prefix ‘a’ means ‘without’; the name 'ataenia' used here in reference to the absence of a mid lateral color band on the body of the new fish.

 Mathews Plamoottil. 2016. Rasbora ataenia, A New Freshwater Fish from Kerala, India. International Journal of Innovative Studies in Aquatic Biology and Fisheries (IJISABF). 2(5); 20-24. 

[Botany • 2016] Nepenthes krabiensis • A New Species of Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae) from Thailand

 Nepenthes krabiensis 
  Nuanlaong, Onsanit, Chusangrach & Suraninpong 


This paper describes and illustrates a new species of Nepenthaceae, Nepenthes krabiensis. The new species is closely related to N. rosea which has been found in the same habitat of the wildlife sanctuary of Krabi Province in Southern Thailand.

KEYWORDS: Thailand, Krabi, Peninsular Thailand, taxonomy.

Figure 3. Nepenthes krabiensis. A. habitat and habit, C. lower pitcher; D. upper pitcher. 

 Distribution.― Southern Thailand, founded only at Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary, Krabi Province, Thailand. 
Ecology.― On summit areas, in sandy or mool soil, often growing in limestone rock crevices, at 600–700 m above sea level. 

Etymology.― The species is named after Krabi Province, to which it is endemic. 

Phenology.― Flowering June to August. 

Proposed IUCN conservation outlook assessment (2012).― Nepenthes krabiensis is assessed as Critically Endangered [CR B2ab (ii)]. It distributed in an area of 500 m2 and only on a single site on the summit of Mt Nor Ju Jee. 

Notes.― Nepenthes krabiensis is similar to N. rosea which grows in the same province and also on limestone mountains. The species share lanceolate, pseudo-petiolate and decurrent leaves, but N. krabiensis differs from N. rosea in the conspicuous coloration of the lower pitchers: being orange with red stripes, with red blotches over the inner surface and absent in the glandular zone, the green to orange or red peristome, the green to red lid upper surface, and the green to yellow or orange lid lower surface. The lower pitchers of N. rosea are green to light pink with dark pink stripes outside, and uniformly green to dark pink over the inner surface.

 Sanya Nuanlaong, Sarayut Onsanit, Vutthipong Chusangrach, Potjamarn Suraninpong. 2016. A New Species of Nepenthes (Nepenthaceae) from Thailand. THAI FOREST BULL., BOT 44(2); : 128–133. DOI:  10.20531/tfb.2016.44.2.08

In Memoriam: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 1927-2016 | พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดชฯ บรมนาถบพิตร (๒๔๗๐ - ๒๕๕๙)

Bhumibol Adulyadej (Thai: ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช; pronounced [pʰuːmípʰon ʔàdunjádèːt], 5 December 1927 – 13 October 2016), conferred with the title King Bhumibol the Great in 1987, was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty as Rama IX. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he was, at the time of his death, the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, serving for 70 years, 126 days.  

• หมึกสายราชา Amphioctopus rex (Nateewathana & Norman, 1999)

• 'ปูเจ้าพ่อหลวง' Indochinamon bhumibol (Naiyanetr, 2001)

เพื่อเป็นการเฉลิมพระเกียรติพระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัว เนื่องในวโรกาสมหามงคลเฉลิมพระชนมพรรษา 6 รอบ จุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัยได้ค้นพบปูชนิดใหม่ของโลก เป็นปูน้ำจืดตัวใหญ่ที่สุดในประเทศไทย ณ บริเวณภูหลวง อำเภอวังสะพุง จังหวัดเลย โดย ศาสตราจารย์ ไพบูลย์ นัยเนตร ภาควิชาชีววิทยา คณะวิทยาศาสตร์ จุฬาลงกรณ์มหาวิทยาลัย ได้ทำหนังสือกราบบังคมทูลขอพระราชทานพระบรมราชานุญาตอัญเชิญพระปรมาภิไธย พระบาทสมเด็จพระเจ้าอยู่หัวเป็นนามปูน้ำจืดชนิดใหม่ของโลก โดยเรียกชื่อวิทยาศาสตร์ของปูที่พบใหม่ว่า Potamon bhumibol ชื่อไทยว่า ปูเจ้าพ่อหลวง มีชื่อสามัญว่า Giant Mountain Crab และได้รับพระบรมราชานุญาต เมื่อวันที่ 5 มกราคม 2543 โดยจะทำการพิมพ์เผยแพร่ปูที่พบใหม่นี้ในวารสารต่างประเทศชื่อ Crustacena, International Journal of Crustacean Research 
ลักษณะเด่นของปูเจ้าพ่อหลวงมี 3 สี คือ สีน้ำตาลเข้ม สีม่วง และสีส้ม โดยกระดองจะเป็นสีน้ำตาลเข้ม ขาเดิน 4 คู่ และขาก้ามทั้งสองข้างเป็นสีน้ำตาลเข้ม ยกเว้นด้านในของก้ามหนีบอันล่างเป็นสีม่วง และปลายก้ามหนีบทั้งสองข้างเป็นสีส้ม เป็นปูน้ำจืดตัวใหญ่ที่สุดในประเทศไทย

• 'เต่าทรงพระเจริญ'  Basilochelys macrobios  Tong, Claude, Naksri, et al, 2009

• เทียนพระบารมี Impatiens charisma Suksathan & Keerat. (2009)

• มะลิเฉลิมนรินทร์ Jasminum bhumibolianum Chalermglin (2013)

• ภูมิพลินทร์ Paraboea bhumiboliana Triboun & Chuchan (2012)

• Nateewathana, A. and Norman, M.D. 1999. Phuket Mar. Biol. Center Special Publ. 19(2); 445-462.
• Naiyanetr, P. 2001. Potamon bhumibhol n. sp., a new giant freshwater crab from Thailand (Decapoda, Brachyura, Potamidae). Crustaceana 74(3); 309-316.
• Haiyan Tong, Julien Claude, Wilailuck Naksri, Varavudh Suteethorn, Eric Buffetaut, Sasidhorn Khansubha, Kamonrak Wongko and Phisit Yuangdetkla. 2009.  Basilochelys macrobios n. gen. and n. sp., A Large Cryptodiran Turtle from the Phu Kradung Formation (latest Jurassic-earliest Cretaceous) of the Khorat Plateau, NE Thailand. In: Buffetaut, E.; Cuny, G.; Le Loeuff, J. & Suteethorn, V. (eds.). Late Palaeozoic and Mesozoic Ecosystems in SE Asia. Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 315: 229-243. DOI:  10.1144/SP315.12

• Suksathan, P. and P. Triboun. 2009. Ten new species of Impatiens (Balsaminaceae) from Thailand. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore. 61 (1): 159-184.
• Pramote Triboun and David J. Middleton. 2012. Twenty new species of Paraboea (Gesneriaceae) from Thailand. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore. 64(2): 333–370.

• Chalermglin, P. and Kiew, R. 2013. A new species of Jasminum (Oleaceae) from Thailand. Blumea - Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants. 58 (3); 80-81. DOI: 10.3767/000651913X673216



พันธุ์สัตว์และพรรณพืช อันเนื่องด้วยพระปรมาภิไธย

 ชื่อวิทยาศาสตร์สิ่งมีชีวิต ตั้งขึ้นเพื่อถวายเป็นเกียรติพระบรมวงศานุวงศ์

[Herpetology • 2017] How Draco Lizards Fly: A Novel Type of Wing in Animals

 formation of the composite wing during the initial phases of the gliding flight of Draco dussumieri seen from the front (left) and from below (right; corresponding photos of the same phases). The lizard jumps from the tree, reorients the body dorsoventrally and starts to spread the anterior ribs; the extended arms reach behind the back (top). The anterior ribs are further spread by the trunk musculature; the hands grasp the leading edge of the patagium and pull it forward (middle). The patagium is fully extended and controlled by the forelimbs; the glide path becomes more horizontal (bottom). White arrows indicate the positions of the hands.
Dehling, 2016.   DOI: 10.1101/086496 


Flying lizards of the genus Draco are famous for their gliding ability, using an aerofoil formed by winglike patagial membranes and supported by elongated thoracic ribs. It has remained unknown, however, how the lizards manoeuvre during flight. Here, I show that the patagium is deliberately grasped and controlled by the forelimbs while airborne. This type of composite wing is unique inasmuch as the lift-generating and the controlling units are formed independently by different parts of the body and are connected to each other only for the duration of the flight. The major advantage for the lizards is that the forelimbs keep their entire movement range and functionality for climbing and running when they are not used as the controlling unit of the wing. These findings not only shed a new light on the flight of Draco lizards but also have implications for the interpretation of gliding performance in fossil species.

  KEYWORDS: Draco, flying lizard, gliding flight, patagium

J Maximilian Dehling. 2016. How Lizards Fly: A Novel Type of Wing in Animals.
 BioRxiv. DOI: 10.1101/086496 

Dragon lizards fly by grabbing their fold-up wings with ‘hands’


[Herpetology • 2011] Callulina meteora • A Remarkable New Species of Callulina (Anura: Brevicipitidae) from montane forest of the Nguru Mountains, Tanzania, with Massive, Boldly Coloured Limb Glands

Callulina meteora  

Menegon, Gower & Loader, 2011  


A large new species of Callulina is described from a series of 22 specimens from the montane and upper montane forest of the Nguru Mountains, Tanzania. The most striking features of Callulina meteora sp. nov. are the massive and boldly coloured glands on the arms and legs and a metallic sheen to the skin. The new species is distinguished further on the basis of acoustic and molecular data. The position, size and conspicuousness of the enlarged glands in the new species are strikingly similar to those of Nectophrynoides viviparus, a toad found also in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania. The new species is known from a single forest reserve and is of high conservation concern.

Keywords: aposematism; Eastern Arc; glands; Nectophrynoides; Nguru; Tanzania

FIGURE 2. Callulina meteora sp. nov. in life from the type locality, showing some of the species variability. 

Etymology. The specific epithet is used as an adjective and derives from the greek word meteoron, meaning"thing high up," in reference to the type locality of the species, situated close to the top of the Nguru Mountains. 

Michele Menegon, David J. Gower and Simon P. Loader. 2011. A Remarkable New Species of Callulina (Amphibia: Anura: Brevicipitidae) with Massive, Boldly Coloured Limb Glands. Zootaxa. 3095; 15–26.

[Ichthyology • 2016] Urogymnus acanthobothrium • A New Euryhaline Whipray (Myliobatiformes: Dasyatidae) from Australia and Papua New Guinea

Urogymnus acanthobothrium 
Last, White, Kyne, 2016


The Mumburarr Whipray, Urogymnus acanthobothrium sp. nov. is described from a single specimen taken from the Cambridge Gulf, Western Australia, and from images of 10 other specimens from northern Australia and Papua New Guinea (all observed but not collected). It is a very large ray that attains at least 161 cm disc width, making it amongst the largest of the whiprays. The ventral tail below the caudal sting has a low, short-based fold. A ventral tail fold (or a dorsal fold) has not been recorded for any other himanturin stingray in the Indo-West Pacific. Molecular data suggest it is most closely related to a similar but more widely distributed cognate, U. granulatus. Both of these species share a suboval disc shape, similar squamation patterns, and the tail posterior to the sting is entirely white (at least in small individuals). U. acanthobothrium sp. nov. differs from U. granulatus in having a longer and more angular snout, longer tail, more posteriorly inserted caudal sting, lacks white flecks on the dorsal surface, and the ventral disc is uniformly white (rather than white with a broad black margin). It co-occurs with two other morphologically distinct Urogymnus in the region (U. asperrimus and U. dalyensis). Like U. dalyensis it occurs in both brackish and marine waters. A key is proved to the members of the genus Urogymnus.

Keywords: Pisces, Urogymnus acanthobothrium, Dasyatidae, giant whipray, new species, Australia, Papua New Guinea

Peter R Last, William T White, Peter M Kyne. 2016. Urogymnus acanthobothrium sp. nov., A New Euryhaline Whipray (Myliobatiformes: Dasyatidae) from Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Zootaxa. 4147(2);  DOI:  10.11646/zootaxa.4147.2.4

Friday, December 30, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Diet and Body Condition of Cave-dwelling Dwarf Crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis, Cope 1861) in Gabon

Figure 4.   Side by side photo of two adult male Osteolaemus tetraspis. The left individual was captured in the Abanda caves and displays the bizarre orange skin colour. We do not yet fully understand the mechanism underlying this colour change, though suspect it is caused by a chemical bleaching process after long periods of exposure to high urea concentrations from bat guano. 


We present the first ever observations of dwarf crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis) selectively utilizing a cave ecosystem. We analysed crocodile diet to preliminarily assess the degree of ecological isolation of cave-dwelling crocodiles from their forest-dwelling conspecifics despite their physical proximity. We additionally conducted the first study of body condition of dwarf crocodiles and compared cave-dwelling individuals to surface-dwelling individuals from a variety of alternative habitats and sites as a means to better understand the implications of a semihypogean life on this species. Crocodiles captured in the caves appeared to forage exclusively in the caves and ate mostly cave crickets and bats, whereas crocodiles captured in the surrounding forest habitat consumed primarily freshwater crustaceans and insects and were not found to consume cave-dwelling prey. Juvenile cave crocodiles had significantly higher body condition compared to juvenile forest crocodiles, which did not vary amongst forest locations. The difference in body condition between adult cave and forest crocodiles was not statistically significant despite also being higher; we suspect this is an artifact of the low sample size rather than a real nondifference. Forest adult crocodiles generally had significantly higher body condition than juveniles, but did not vary by site or habitat. This lack of variation suggests that habitat type is not the most important factor influencing dwarf crocodile body condition. Our results provide a unique insight into facultative cave use by a principally surface-dwelling species and reinforce the necessity for further research into this unique system to better understand the evolutionary-scale implications of cave habitat use by dwarf crocodiles.

Matthew H. Shirley, Brittany Burtner, Richard Oslisly, David Sebag and Olivier Testa. 2016. Diet and Body Condition of Cave-dwelling Dwarf Crocodiles (Osteolaemus tetraspis, Cope 1861) in Gabon.   African Journal of Ecology, DOI:  10.1111/aje.12365 

Résumé: Nous présentons ici la première observation de crocodile nain (Osteolaemus tetraspis) dans un écosystème cavernicole. Nous avons analysé leur régime alimentaire pour évaluer le degré d'isolement écologique par rapport à leurs conspécifiques forestiers indépendamment de leur proximité physique. Nous avons également effectué la première étude sur les conditions physiques des crocodiles nains et nous avons ensuite comparé les individus troglodytes par rapport à ceux de l'extérieur dans une variété d'habitats et de sites afin d'explorer les conséquences d'une vie semi-hypogée sur cette espèce. Les crocodiles capturés dans les grottes semblent trouver leur nourriture exclusivement dans les cavités, la plupart des proies identifiées étant des grillons cavernicoles et des chauves-souris. Au contraire, les crocodiles capturés à l'extérieur dans les habitats forestiers, consomment principalement des crustacés d'eau douce et des insectes mais jamais de proies troglodytes. En comparaison, les crocodiles troglodytes juvéniles avaient une meilleure condition physique que les crocodiles juvéniles forestiers. La différence de condition physique entre les crocodiles troglodytes adultes et les crocodiles adultes forestiers n'a pas été statistiquement significative en dépit d’être également plus élevé; nous soupçonnons que cela soit un artefact de la faible taille de l’échantillon plutôt que d'une véritable non-différence. Sur les différents sites et habitats forestiers, les crocodiles adultes avaient généralement une condition physique meilleure que celle des juvéniles, et les conditions physiques des deux catégories démographiques ne variaient pas. Cette faible variation entre les sites forestiers indique que le type d'habitat n'est pas un facteur important pour le contrôle de la condition physique des crocodiles nains. Ces premiers résultats fournissent un aperçu unique de l'utilisation facultative des grottes par des espèces principalement inféodées à des habitats de surface. Ils renforcent la nécessité de poursuivre les recherches pour mieux comprendre comment et en quoi l'utilisation de l'habitat cavernicole par les crocodiles nains influe sur leur évolution.

[Entomology • 2016] Selection for Predation, not Female Fecundity, Explains Sexual Size Dimorphism in the Orchid Mantises

Figure 1: Floral and disruptive camouflage in nymphal and adult Hymenopodini with varying sexual size dimorphism (SSD) of males and females.

Hymenopus (a) female nymph with monochromatic colouration (photograph by Matthew Nochisaki), (b) mating pair with pronounced SSD and monochromatic colouration (photograph by Jason Zhu). (dTheopropus with pronounced SSD, but patterned, disruptive camouflage in both male and female (photograph by Stefan Engelhardt).
eCreobroter sp. mating pair with low SSD and patterned colouration in both male and female (photograph by Andrew Mitchell).  

DOI:  10.1038/srep37753  

Here we reconstruct the evolutionary shift towards floral simulation in orchid mantises and suggest female predatory selection as the likely driving force behind the development of extreme sexual size dimorphism. Through analysis of body size data and phylogenetic modelling of trait evolution, we recovered an ancestral shift towards sexual dimorphisms in both size and appearance in a lineage of flower-associated praying mantises. Sedentary female flower mantises dramatically increased in size prior to a transition from camouflaged, ambush predation to a floral simulation strategy, gaining access to, and visually attracting, a novel resource: large pollinating insects. Male flower mantises, however, remained small and mobile to facilitate mate-finding and reproductive success, consistent with ancestral male life strategy. Although moderate sexual size dimorphisms are common in many arthropod lineages, the predominant explanation is female size increase for increased fecundity. However, sex-dependent selective pressures acting outside of female fecundity have been suggested as mechanisms behind niche dimorphisms. Our hypothesised role of predatory selection acting on females to generate both extreme sexual size dimorphism coupled with niche dimorphism is novel among arthropods.

Hymenopus (a) female nymph with monochromatic colouration (photograph by Matthew Nochisaki), (b) mating pair with pronounced SSD and monochromatic colouration (photograph by Jason Zhu). (c) Helvia mating pair with pronounced SSD and monochromatic colouration (photograph by Adrian Kozakiewicz). (d) Theopropus with pronounced SSD, but patterned, disruptive camouflage in both male and female (photograph by Stefan Engelhardt). (e) Creobroter sp. mating pair with low SSD and patterned colouration in both male and female (photograph by Andrew Mitchell). 

Gavin J. Svenson, Sydney K. Brannoch, Henrique M. Rodrigues, James C. O’Hanlon and
Frank Wieland. 2016. Selection for Predation, not Female Fecundity, Explains Sexual Size Dimorphism in the Orchid Mantises.
Scientific Reports. 6:37753. DOI:  10.1038/srep37753

  Beautiful Huntresses: Scientists Explain Why Mantises Evolved To Resemble Orchids   @NPR