Special Issue "Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles"

A special issue of Diversity (ISSN 1424-2818). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal Diversity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA
Dr. Rudolf von May
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Biology Program, California State University Channel Islands, Camarillo, CA 93012, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Systematic and taxonomic studies are essential for conservation – we can only preserve what we know. The first step of knowing organisms is to identify species, and to name and organize them according to their evolutionary history. The number of species of amphibians and reptiles has increased sharply over the last few decades, but we have much work ahead of us if we want to describe the outstanding biodiversity of the Neotropical herpetofauna. At the same time, traditional and emergent threats are accelerating the erosion of herpetofaunal biodiversity. Traditional threats include habitat loss, pesticides, and over-harvesting of wild populations. Emergent threats such as disease and climate change may impact species within natural protected areas where habitat loss and fragmentation are negligible. Emergent infectious diseases, such as chytridiomycosis, are associated with population declines and the collapse of amphibian communities throughout the Neotropics. Additionally, while climate change threatens many amphibian and reptilian species, it remains unclear how species will be able to cope with increasing temperatures, seasonal shifts and increasing frequency of extreme climatic events. The purpose of this special issue is to gather original studies focusing on herpetological systematics and conservation. We welcome contributions focusing on any Neotropical group of amphibians and/or reptiles, and which use original data or modeling of available data, aimed at improving the use of systematic and taxonomic knowledge for conservation. We also encourage papers proposing new methods to accelerate taxonomic studies, including those that present technological advances to quickly generate molecular data. This special issue will be open to all facets of conservation, ranging from applied conservation (i.e., to improve captive breeding programs, help design protected areas, or to design education projects) to policymaking and assessments of species threat status. We especially encourage reports of successful conservation initiatives that rely on the use of newly generated taxonomic information.

Dr. Alessandro Catenazzi
Dr. Rudolf von May
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • frogs
  • salamanders
  • caecilians
  • lizards
  • snakes
  • turtles
  • crocodilians
  • taxonomy
  • phylogenetics
  • ecology

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Three New Lizard Species of the Liolaemus montanus Group from Perú
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090161 - 11 Sep 2019
Abstract
Three new species of Liolaemus belonging to the L. montanus group are described from Perú. Two new species are restricted to the Ica and Moquegua departments on the Pacific coast, and one new species is only known from an isolated highland in Ayacucho [...] Read more.
Three new species of Liolaemus belonging to the L. montanus group are described from Perú. Two new species are restricted to the Ica and Moquegua departments on the Pacific coast, and one new species is only known from an isolated highland in Ayacucho department. These three new species differ from closely related species in their coloration patterns and head shape. We comment on the conservation issues of the new species and other Peruvian species of the L. montanus group. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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Open AccessArticle
Barcoding Analysis of Paraguayan Squamata
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 152; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090152 - 30 Aug 2019
Abstract
Paraguay is a key spot in the central region of South America where several ecoregions converge. Its fauna (and specifically its herpetofauna) is getting better studied than years before, but still there is a lack of information regarding molecular genetics, and barcoding analyses [...] Read more.
Paraguay is a key spot in the central region of South America where several ecoregions converge. Its fauna (and specifically its herpetofauna) is getting better studied than years before, but still there is a lack of information regarding molecular genetics, and barcoding analyses have proven to be an excellent tool in this matter. Here, we present results of a barcoding analysis based on 16S rRNA gene sequences, providing valuable data for the scientific community in the region. We based our fieldwork in several areas of Paraguay. We analyzed 249 samples (142 sequenced by us) with a final alignment of 615 bp length. We identified some taxonomic incongruences that can be addressed based on our results. Furthermore, we identify groups, where collecting efforts and research activities should be reinforced. Even though we have some blanks in the geographical coverage of our analysis—and there is still a lot to do towards a better understanding of the taxonomy of the Paraguayan herpetofauna—here, we present the largest genetic dataset for the mitochondrial DNA gene 16S of reptiles (particularly, Squamata) from Paraguay, which can be used to solve taxonomic problems in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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Open AccessArticle
Conservation Status of Brachycephalus Toadlets (Anura: Brachycephalidae) from the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090150 - 27 Aug 2019
Abstract
The number of described anurans has increased continuously, with many newly described species determined to be at risk. Most of these new species inhabit hotspots and are under threat of habitat loss, such as Brachycephalus, a genus of small toadlets that inhabits [...] Read more.
The number of described anurans has increased continuously, with many newly described species determined to be at risk. Most of these new species inhabit hotspots and are under threat of habitat loss, such as Brachycephalus, a genus of small toadlets that inhabits the litter of the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. Of 36 known species, 22 were described in the last decade, but only 11 have been assessed according to the IUCN Red List categories, with just one currently listed as Critically Endangered. All available data on occurrence, distribution, density, and threats to Brachycephalus were reviewed. The species extent of occurrence was estimated using the Minimum Convex Polygon method for species with three or more records and by delimiting continuous areas within the altitudinal range of species with up to two records. These data were integrated to assess the conservation status according to the IUCN criteria. Six species have been evaluated as Critically Endangered, five as Endangered, 10 as Vulnerable, five as Least Concern, and 10 as Data Deficient. Deforestation was the most common threat to imperiled Brachycephalus species. The official recognition of these categories might be more readily adopted if the microendemic nature of their geographical distribution is taken into account. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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Open AccessArticle
Ecological and Conservation Correlates of Rarity in New World Pitvipers
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090147 - 27 Aug 2019
Abstract
Rare species tend to be especially sensitive to habitat disturbance, making them important conservation targets. Thus, rarity patterns might be an important guide to conservation efforts. Rabinowitz’s approach defines rarity using a combination of geographical range, habitat specificity, and local abundance, and is [...] Read more.
Rare species tend to be especially sensitive to habitat disturbance, making them important conservation targets. Thus, rarity patterns might be an important guide to conservation efforts. Rabinowitz’s approach defines rarity using a combination of geographical range, habitat specificity, and local abundance, and is frequently used in conservation prioritization. Herein, we use Rabinowitz’s approach to classify the New World (NW) pitvipers (family Viperidae) regarding rarity. We tested whether body size and latitude could predict rarity, and we compared rarity patterns with extinction risk assessments and other prioritization methods in order to detect rare species not classified as threatened or prioritized. Most NW pitvipers have large geographical ranges, high local abundances, and narrow habitat breadths. There are 11.8% of NW pitviper species in the rarest category and they occur along the Pacific coast of Mexico, in southern Central America, in the Andean region of Ecuador, and in eastern Brazil. Rarity in NW pitvipers is inversely related to latitude but is not related to body size. Our results indicate that additional species of NW pitvipers are threatened and/or should be prioritized for conservation. Combining complementary approaches to detect rare and threatened species may substantially improve our knowledge on the conservation needs of NW pitvipers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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Open AccessArticle
A New Species of Terrestrial-Breeding Frog (Amphibia, Strabomantidae, Noblella) from the Upper Madre De Dios Watershed, Amazonian Andes and Lowlands of Southern Peru
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090145 - 26 Aug 2019
Abstract
We describe and name a new species of Noblella Barbour, 1930 (Strabomantidae) from southern Peru. Key diagnostic characteristics of the new species include the presence of a short, oblique fold-like tubercle on the ventral part of the tarsal region, two phalanges on finger [...] Read more.
We describe and name a new species of Noblella Barbour, 1930 (Strabomantidae) from southern Peru. Key diagnostic characteristics of the new species include the presence of a short, oblique fold-like tubercle on the ventral part of the tarsal region, two phalanges on finger IV, and an evident tympanum. The elevational distribution of the new species spans 1250 m (240–1490 m) from lowland Amazon rainforest to montane forest on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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Open AccessArticle
Biogeography, Systematics, and Ecomorphology of Pacific Island Anoles
Diversity 2019, 11(9), 141; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11090141 - 21 Aug 2019
Abstract
Anoles are regarded as important models for understanding dynamic processes in ecology and evolution. Most work on this group has focused on species in the Caribbean Sea, and recently in mainland South and Central America. However, the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) is home [...] Read more.
Anoles are regarded as important models for understanding dynamic processes in ecology and evolution. Most work on this group has focused on species in the Caribbean Sea, and recently in mainland South and Central America. However, the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) is home to seven species of anoles from three unique islands (Islas Cocos, Gorgona, and Malpelo) that have been largely overlooked. Four of these species are endemic to single islands (Norops townsendi on Isla Cocos, Dactyloa agassizi on Isla Malpelo, D. gorgonae and N. medemi on Isla Gorgona). Herein, we present a phylogenetic analysis of anoles from these islands in light of the greater anole phylogeny to estimate the timing of divergence from mainland lineages for each species. We find that two species of solitary anoles (D. agassizi and N. townsendi) diverged from mainland ancestors prior to the emergence of their respective islands. We also present population-wide morphological data suggesting that both display sexual size dimorphism, similar to single-island endemics in the Caribbean. All lineages on Isla Gorgona likely arose during past connections with South America, and ecologically partition their habitat. Finally, we highlight the importance of conservation of these species and island fauna in general. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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Open AccessArticle
Endemic Infection of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Costa Rica: Implications for Amphibian Conservation at Regional and Species Level
Diversity 2019, 11(8), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11080129 - 09 Aug 2019
Abstract
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been associated with the severe declines and extinctions of amphibians in Costa Rica that primarily occurred during the 1980s and 1990s. However, the current impact of Bd infection on amphibian species in Costa Rica is unknown. We [...] Read more.
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been associated with the severe declines and extinctions of amphibians in Costa Rica that primarily occurred during the 1980s and 1990s. However, the current impact of Bd infection on amphibian species in Costa Rica is unknown. We aimed to update the list of amphibian species in Costa Rica and evaluate the prevalence and infection intensity of Bd infection across the country to aid in the development of effective conservation strategies for amphibians. We reviewed taxonomic lists and included new species descriptions and records for a total of 215 amphibian species in Costa Rica. We also sampled for Bd at nine localities from 2015–2018 and combined these data with additional Bd occurrence data from multiple studies conducted in amphibian communities across Costa Rica from 2005–2018. With this combined dataset, we found that Bd was common (overall infection rate of 23%) across regions and elevations, but infection intensity was below theoretical thresholds associated with mortality. Bd was also more prevalent in Caribbean lowlands and in terrestrial amphibians with an aquatic larval stage; meanwhile, infection load was the highest in direct-developing species (forest and stream-dwellers). Our findings can be used to prioritize regions and taxonomic groups for conservation strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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Open AccessArticle
Phylogenomic Reconstruction of the Neotropical Poison Frogs (Dendrobatidae) and Their Conservation
Diversity 2019, 11(8), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11080126 - 29 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The evolutionary history of the Dendrobatidae, the charismatic Neotropical poison frog family, remains in flux, even after a half-century of intensive research. Understanding the evolutionary relationships between dendrobatid genera and the larger-order groups within Dendrobatidae is critical for making accurate assessments of all [...] Read more.
The evolutionary history of the Dendrobatidae, the charismatic Neotropical poison frog family, remains in flux, even after a half-century of intensive research. Understanding the evolutionary relationships between dendrobatid genera and the larger-order groups within Dendrobatidae is critical for making accurate assessments of all aspects of their biology and evolution. In this study, we provide the first phylogenomic reconstruction of Dendrobatidae with genome-wide nuclear markers known as ultraconserved elements. We performed sequence capture on 61 samples representing 33 species across 13 of the 16 dendrobatid genera, aiming for a broadly representative taxon sample. We compare topologies generated using maximum likelihood and coalescent methods and estimate divergence times using Bayesian methods. We find most of our dendrobatid tree to be consistent with previously published results based on mitochondrial and low-count nuclear data, with notable exceptions regarding the placement of Hyloxalinae and certain genera within Dendrobatinae. We also characterize how the evolutionary history and geographic distributions of the 285 poison frog species impact their conservation status. We hope that our phylogeny will serve as a backbone for future evolutionary studies and that our characterizations of conservation status inform conservation practices while highlighting taxa in need of further study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systematics and Conservation of Neotropical Amphibians and Reptiles)
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