Two new articles about crocodiles

Published two new articles about Crocodylus suchus, a species present in Morocco until 1951 (Montiel en Geniez et al., 2004), and that was extint probably because the desertification and human pressure between more factors.

The first article grew up in a 35% the known localities of Crocodylus suchus in Mauritania. These authors explain that the Gueltas are basic in the persistence of the mountain populations and also are needed new studies to understand the adaptation of these cocodriles to extreme habitats, where the water presence sometimes is temporal and cocodriles need to make big displacements, moment where they are very vulnerable. They also explain that it would be necessary  molecular analysis to quantify the genetic variability and detect the gene flow between the desert populations, because some of them are completely isolated. It would be necessary awareness campaigns to explain how vulnerable are these reptiles, that only mantain a few relict populations and it would be prioritary that Mauritania mountains where cocodriles live were considerated protected areas.

Brito JC, Martínez-Freiría F, Sierra P, Sillero N, Tarroso P, 2011 Crocodiles in the Sahara Desert: An Update of Distribution, Habitats and Population Status for Conservation Planning in Mauritania. PLoS ONE 6(2): e14734. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014734

The second paper evaluates the monophyletic nature of the Nile crocodile with a phylogenetic analysis using markers of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA samples throughout Africa, including the most important bioregions and even samples of Museum colections. The analyses reveal a cryptic evolutionary lineage within Nile cocodrile and clear the taxonomic and conservation status of this species. Analysis reveal that Crocodylus suchus  is a different lineage of  C. niloticus, specially vulnerable to extintion due to its rarity and big number of troubles like ilegal traffic of skin, meat traffic of damage in the humid places that are their habitat. Authors suggest the adoption of precautionary measures, as to recognize the ancestral lineage of C. suchus in the IUCN Red List, as the review of the status of the actual populations, could help to stop the lost of more populations of this scarce reptile.

HEKKALA, E., SHIRLEY, M. H., AMATO, G., AUSTIN, J. D., CHARTER, S., THORBJARNARSON, J., VLIET, K. A., HOUCK, M. L., DESALLE, R. and BLUM, M. J. (2011), An ancient icon reveals new mysteries: mummy DNA resurrects a cryptic species within the Nile crocodile. Molecular Ecology, 20: 4199–4215. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05245.x

Thanks to Juan Pablo González de la Vega to send us both articles.

Additional bibliography:

Fernández-Palacios, J.M.; Tellería, J.L.; El Mamy Ghaillani, H.; Bartolomé, J. & Montiano, E. 2008. Conservación y cooperación al desarrollo: una experiencia en Mauritania. Ecosistemas 17 (2): 10-16.

Geniez, P.; Mateo, J.A.; Geniez, M. & Pether, J. 2004. The amphibians and reptiles of the Western Sahara (former Spanish Sahara) and adjacent regions. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 228 pp

Bufo spinosus

According to a recent study based on analysis of nuclear DNA and mitochondrial common toad populations in North Africa belongs to Bufo spinosus, which acquires status of valid species.

Multilocus species tree analyses resolve the radiation of the widespread Bufo bufo species group (Anura, Bufonidae)
E. Recuero, D. Canestrelli, J. Vörös, K. Szabó, N.A. Poyarkov, J.W. Arntzen, J. Crnobrnja-Isailovic, A.A. Kidov, D. Cogălniceanu, F.P. Caputo, G. Nascetti, I. Martínez-Solano
Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.09.008

Updated the Pelobates varaldii species page

It was recently discovered a population of Moroccan Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates varaldii) that extends about 50 km to the north the known range of this threatened anuran.

Photo: © Philip de Pous.

The correct identification was confirmed by analysis of mt-DNA and the finding was published in the latest issue of Herpetological Review. We are grateful to Iñigo Martínez-Solano for sharing with us the article.

We have updated the Pelobates varaldii page to reflect these new data and we have also added new pictures to the photo gallery of this endangered Moroccan species, kindly provided by Philip de Pous and Wouter Beukema for

Reference: Lapeña, M.; Barbadillo, L.J. & Martínez-Solano, I. 2011. Geographic Distribution. Pelobates varaldii.
Herpetol. Rev.
, 42(1): 108.

New article: A note on the generic allocation of Coluber moilensis

In the latest issue of Salamandra an article is published by Böhme, W. & S. de Pury which advocates a change of genus for the false cobra, which would be renamed Rhagerhis moilensis.

A note on the generic allocation of Coluber moilensis Reuss, 1834 (Serpentes: Psammophiidae).

New Amphibian Phylogeny

Pyron and Wiens provide a revised classification of extant amphibians. This new taxonomy includes several families not recognized in current classifications, and suggests non-monophyly for several currently recognized families.

R. Alexander Pyron and John J. Wiens 2011. (in press) A large-scale phylogeny of Amphibia including over 2800 species, and a revised classification of extant frogs, salamanders, and caecilians. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.06.012.