Monday, June 21, 2021

[Herpetology • 2021] Metlapilcoatlus borealis • Molecular Phylogenetics and Morphometrics Reveal A New Endemic Jumping Pitviper (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalinae) from the Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico

Metlapilcoatlus borealis
Tepos-Ramírez, Flores-Villela, Velasco, Lara, Rubio & Jadin, 2021

The jumping pitvipers of the genus Metlapilcoatlus are generally associated with montane environments and are widely distributed from central and southern Mexico to Panama. In this study, we analyzed the phylogenetic position and compared the morphology of a population from the Sierra Madre Oriental, within the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, to other species of jumping pitvipers. We implemented two mtDNA gene fragments (cyt b and ND4) of 50 specimens of the five Metlapilcoatlus species for phylogenetic reconstruction using Bayesian inference and maximum likelihood. We used a linear discriminant analysis and comparative statistics of external and hemipenial characters to assess the morphological differences among Metlapilcoatlus lineages. Our analyses support a strong genetic and morphological distinction of Metlapilcoatlus nummifer populations established to the north of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (Hidalgo, Northern Veracruz, and Querétaro) from other Metlapilcoatlus taxa. Based on this evidence we describe the populations from the north as a new species.

the holotype of Metlapilcoatlus borealis [MZFC-35381]
from the locality of San Juan de los Durán, in Jalpan de Serra, Querétaro. 
  Photographs by Óscar Flores-Villela (A) and Mauricio Tepos Ramírez (B and C).

Metlapilcoatlus borealis sp. nov. 
Etymology.— The specific epithet, borealis, references the northernmost distribution of this taxon with respect to the other taxa of Metlapilcoatlus.

Mauricio Tepos-Ramírez, Oscar Flores-Villela, Julián A. Velasco, Carlos Pedraza Lara, Oscar R. García Rubio and Robert C. Jadin. 2021. Molecular Phylogenetics and Morphometrics Reveal A New Endemic Jumping Pitviper (Serpentes: Viperidae: Metlapilcoatlus) from the Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico. Journal of Herpetology. 55(2); 181-191. DOI: 10.1670/20-028