Systematics of the Swiss asp vipers: some implications for the European Vipera aspis (Linnaeus, 1758) complex (Serpentes: Viperidae) – A tribute to Eugen Kramer

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Abstract

Following the opinion expressed by Kramer in 1971, it is commonly accepted that the V. aspis complex is composed of 5 subspecies: V. a. aspis (Linnaeus, 1758), V. a. atra Meisner, 1820, V. a. francisciredi Laurenti, 1768, V. a. hugyi Schinz, 1834 and V. a. zinnikeri Kramer, 1958. However, this point of view was recently challenged and a number of subspecies were elevated to species rank. We had the unique opportunity to study the sample employed by Kramer to revalidate the subspecies V. a. atra and V. a. francisciredi. Using Kramer's determinations, but another set of characters, we reanalysed his sample, by applying the same statistical methods (discriminant and canonical analyses), in order to determine whether observed differences among taxa were sufficiently distinctive to warrant recognition as subspecies. The preliminary results of our morphological study allow us to admit the validity of V. a. francisciredi Laurenti, 1768, but also to question the subspecific rank of V. a. atra Meisner, 1820. These conclusions agree perfectly with the results of our previous genetic study.

Amphibia-Reptilia

Publication of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica

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