Galápagos tortoises are a symbolic animal in terms of conservation biology as well as evolutionary biology, and both in situ and ex situ conservation programs are currently underway. For endangered species, captive individuals can perform a certain role as genetic reservoirs for ongoing and future breeding programs We examined the genetic identities of two giant tortoises in Ueno Zoo, Japan. The mitochondrial genotype of the older tortoise, Taro, as appeared to be that of Chelonoidis porteri from Santa Cruz island. The mitochondrial genotype of the younger tortoise, Kamekichi, was identified as either C. becki from the northern area of Isabela island, or C. darwini from Santiago island. These genetic analyses serve as reference data for the future conservation management of captive Galápagos tortoises.
The Japanese mamushi, Gloydius blomhoffii, is a medium-sized pit viper found in Japan, Korea, and China and is one of the most familiar snake species to Japanese people due to its nutritional and medicinal value, as well as its venomous nature. Although the reproductive biology (e.g., mating season, breeding cycle, spermatogenesis, follicular growth, and pregnancy period) of the mamushi has been partly investigated, there is no detailed report about how the embryos of the mamushi develop in the mother’s oviduct. To provide new information about developmental and reproductive biology of the mamushi and to provide a basis for evolutionary developmental studies aimed at understanding morphological evolution of pit vipers, we described embryonic development of the mamushi covering the middle pharyngula and just before birth, during which pit viper-specific anatomical traits are formed.
The traits of many animal species exhibit individual and sexual differences. Individuals repeatedly receiving a stimulus without harm become habituated to it. However, few studies have been conducted on individual and sexual differences in the process of habituation to unfamiliar food stimuli. Therefore, we hypothesized that individual differences or sexual differences would be observed in reaction to an in-lab food-stimuli presentation of potential prey items (after that “food stimuli”). We tested the hypothesis using the Japanese tree frog Hyla japonica, and conducted statistical analyses of these results. A generalized linear model (GLM) showed individual and sexual differences in time to get used to the food stimuli. Females habituated more rapidly to food stimuli than males. The difference between sexes is discussed in view of two ultimate and one proximate reasons.
Larval morphology offers some of the more important characters for the taxonomy of Meristogenys, and larval information of almost all species has been reported for this genus. However, some larval assignments in previous studies were not based on reliable methods and should be re-examined using modern techniques. In this study, we used molecular methods to re-examine the larval assignments for M. poecilus, whose larvae had been assigned previously based on conventional morphological methods. The analysis revealed that the larvae of this species had been misidentified as M. phaeomerus, a sympatric species. Here we correct the erroneous assignment and briefly comment about the taxonomic status of M. phaeomerus and M. orphnocnemis, based on our results.
The abundant clouded salamander from western Japan, Hynobius nebulosus, has long been considered a single widespread species, although some authors have suggested the inclusion of several cryptic species. This led to a molecular and morphological analysis of populations from all parts of the known range. Phylogenetic relationships were inferred from complete sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene, and nuclear genome differentiations were estimated by multiplexed inter simple sequence repeat genotyping by sequencing (MIG-seq). The results suggest that H. nebulosus hitherto recognized consists of at least nine species. We applied existing names to two of them, H. nebulosus (Temminck et Schlegel) and H. vandenburghi Dunn, and described seven others as new species.
The painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) is widely distributed from coast to coast in North America with each of four subspecies generally occupying different regions. In the southwestern USA and northern Mexico, where C. p. bellii is the expected native race, populations are small and widely-scattered. Introduced populations of other painted turtle subspecies are reported from various locations in the USA. We discovered a small but dense introduced population of C. p. marginata on the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona, a region with few, if any, turtles due to aridity and an elevated topography with little surface water. The turtles were in a remote pond constructed to provide cattle with water. Chrysemys p. marginata occur naturally east of the Mississippi River, over 2,000 km away. The nearest native population of C. p. bellii in Arizona is over 160 km away. We observed nesting females, juveniles, and the presence of shelled eggs in females via X-radiography confirming a self-sustaining population. The body sizes and nesting season we observed were consistent with data for those variables from native populations of the taxon. It is unknown exactly how the turtles came to be established in such a remote location, but it is unlikely that they will spread due to the scarcity of perennial water sources in the semi-arid region. Due to increasing drought frequency and duration in the region, small populations like this one, introduced into a novel environment, may be bellwethers for monitoring the effects of climate change.
Rare or newly discovered species are attractive targets for poaching as they often command a high value in the international market. Endemic species often have a very restricted range, making them extremely vulnerable to stochastic events and human activities, including poaching. Previous studies have shown that several species endemic to the Nansei Islands in Japan are available in the international pet trade. This paper further investigates the presence of live reptiles and amphibians endemic to the Nansei Islands in international pet trade. Seven Facebook groups and five classified websites were searched for these species, in addition to the CITES database and a spot-check at Chatuchak market in Thailand. Nansei Island endemic reptiles and amphibians are more common in the international pet trade than initially thought. During the study period, advertisements for 23 species endemic to the Nansei Islands were found, comprising a total of 360 specimens. In addition, during a spot-check, 8 individuals of 2 subspecies of Japanese sword-tail newt were found at Chatuchak market in Thailand. Only three of these species are protected by the CITES and nine are regionally or nationally protected. Yet, ten species observed in international markets are classified as Endangered by IUCN and two even as Critically Endangered. The large numbers observed for the Endangered and Critically Endangered Goniurosaurus and Takydromus species warrants increased protection and a CITES Appendix III listing is recommended for these species.
The aim of this paper is to report 10 predation events of anuran amphibians by giant water bugs of the genus Lethocerus in different localities in northeastern Argentina. With the exception of Scinax fuscovarius and Physalaemus biligonigerus, they are all new records of adult anurans being prey to these invertebrates. We conclude that this interaction is of extremely importance in the regulation of amphibian populations and should be studied in a thorough manner.