Cryptic diversity of green pitvipers in Yunnan, South-west China (Squamata, Viperidae)

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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The biodiversity of Yunnan, which is located in the Hengduan Mountains region of South-west China, is still underestimated. Here, we explore species diversity of Asian green pitvipers occurring in this region. Based on four mtDNA gene fragments (cyt. b, ND4, 12S RNA, and 16S RNA), we inferred phylogenetic position and relationships of Yunnan green pitvipers using Bayesian Inference (BI) and Maximum Likelihood (ML) methods. Both methods consistently revealed that all examined Yunnan specimens are placed in five clades which should be referred to Trimeresurus albolabris, Viridovipera stejnegeri, V. gumprechti, and the genus Popeia, respectively. It was unexpected that the samples allied to V. gumprechti did not form a monophyletic clade, but rather two well supported, distinct clades. Further morphological comparison suggested that the specimens nested within the clade Popeia should be identified as P. popeiorum, which is a species new to China. As a result, there are currently at least five species occurring in Yunnan, China: Trimeresurus albolabris, Viridovipera stejnegeri, V. yunnanensis, V. gumprechti, and Popeia popeiorum.

Cryptic diversity of green pitvipers in Yunnan, South-west China (Squamata, Viperidae)

in Amphibia-Reptilia



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  • View in gallery

    Map showing the cited localities in Yunnan, China. This figure is published in color in the online version.

  • View in gallery

    The Bayesian 50% majority-rule consensus tree inferred from the mtDNA dataset of cyt. b, ND4, 12S, and 16S based on a eight-partition model. Posterior probabilities and bootstrap values for the clades are shown adjacent to the nodes to which they refer in order. The support values less than 50% are indicated by “–”. This figure is published in color in the online version.

  • View in gallery

    General views of male (top) and female (below) Popeia popeiorum from Southeast Yunnan, China. This figure is published in color in the online version.

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