Mantellid frogs present an extensive adaptive radiation endemic to Madagascar and Comoros, being the subfamily Mantellinae the most morphologically and ecologically diverse. The Mantellinae present key innovative evolutionary traits linked to their unique reproductive behavior, including the presence of femoral glands and a derived vomeronasal organ. In addition, previous studies pointed to size differentiation in playing an important role in species’ dispersal capacities and shaping of their geographic ranges. Despite the high phenotypic variation observed in this clade, to date an exhaustive morphological analysis of their anatomy has still not been performed, much less in relation to internal structures. Here, we present a comprehensive skeletal description of a mantellid species, Blommersia transmarina, from the island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, which has potentially undergone a process of moderate gigantism compared to other Blommersia species. We describe its intraspecific skeletal variation utilizing non-destructive volume renderings from μCT-scans, and characterize the presence of sexual dimorphism and size covariation in skeletal structures. Notably, we found numerous signs of hyperossification, a novel structure for mantellids: the clavicular process, and the presence of several appendicular sesamoids. Our findings suggest that skeletal phenotypic variation in this genus may be linked to biomechanical function for reproduction and locomotion.

In: Contributions to Zoology

The connectivity of groundwater aquifers is lower compared to surface waters. Consequently, groundwater species are expected to have smaller distributional ranges than their surface relatives. Molecular taxonomy, however, unveiled that many species comprise complexes of morphologically cryptic species, with geographically restricted distributional ranges in subterranean as well as in surface waters. Hence, the range sizes of surface and groundwater species might be more similar in size than hitherto thought. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the range size of surface amphipods of the genus Gammarus and subterranean amphipods of the genus Niphargus in Iran. We re-analyzed the taxonomic structure of both genera using two unilocus species delimitation methods applied to a fragment of the COI mitochondrial marker, to identify molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs), and assessed the maximum linear extent (MLE) of the ranges of MOTUs from both genera. Genus Gammarus comprised 44–58 MOTUs while genus Niphargus comprised 20–22 MOTUs. The MLEs of the two genera were not significantly different, regardless the delimitation method applied. The results remained unchanged also after exclusion of single site MOTUs. We tentatively conclude that in this case there is no evidence to consider that groundwater species are geographically more restricted than surface species.

In: Contributions to Zoology

The putative monophyly and systematic position of Merodon nigritarsis group was assessed based on morphological and molecular data of the mitochondrial COI and nuclear 28S rRNA genes. The previously reported concept of the group has been redefined, and M. crassifemoris Paramonov, 1925 is now excluded. The related M. avidus group is redefined here, including the Merodon avidus complex and M. femoratus Sack, 1913. Species delimitation of morphologically defined species of M. nigritarsis group was well supported by COI gene analysis, with the exception of M. alagoezicus Paramonov, 1925 and M. lucasi Hurkmans, 1993. Descriptions are given for three new species of the M. nigritarsis species group: Merodon cohurnus Vujić, Likov et Radenković sp. n., Merodon longisetus Vujić, Radenković et Likov sp. n. and Merodon obstipus Vujić, Radenković et Likov sp. n., and one new species from the M. avidus group: Merodon rutitarsis Likov, Vujić et Radenković sp. n. A lectotype is designated for M. femoratus Sack, 1913, and two new synonymies of this species were proposed: M. biarcuatus Curran, 1939 and M. elegans Hurkmans, 1993. Here we review 18 species from the M. nigritarsis group and six species from the M. avidus group and provide morphological diagnoses of the species groups. Additionally, diagnosis of 12 branches (groups or individual taxa) of M. avidus-nigritarsis lineage, an illustrated diagnostic key for the males, and distribution map are provided for the new species.

In: Contributions to Zoology
This book is the first comprehensive work on oriental Notodontidae (Lepidoptera) outside mainland Asia. The studied area includes also Borneo Island, the Malayan Peninsula, entire New Guinea with adjacent islands. All species are illustrated in both sexes with a total number of 1272 specimens on 51 colour plates. Genitalia photos of both sexes as well as detailed distribution maps are provided for each species.
The book deals in the first volume with 298 species and contains descriptions of 99 new notodontid taxa. A second volume will treat with the remaining 160 species and include also a comprehensive biogeographic analysis.
Author: Dorothea Friz

Abstract

A stray dog problem is not necessarily due to animals not owned. In fact, it can be caused by owned dogs allowed to roam and reproduce freely around the whole territory. And if the authorities limit themselves to the policy of catching the dogs and keeping them in shelters, the problem will never be solved. Instead, the shelters will soon be very overcrowded, with tremendous animal welfare issues for the imprisoned animals and at a very high cost for the public. Spay/neuter and return projects will instead reduce the number of dogs in the territory and are an essential way of keeping constant control. This is what my experience in Southern Italy taught me.

In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research

Abstract

Breakthroughs in gene editing technologies have made it feasible to create genetically altered (GA) non-human primate (NHP) models of disease. This area of research is accelerating, particularly in China, Japan and the USA, and could lead to an increase in NHP use globally. The hope is that genetic models in animal species closely related to humans will significantly improve understanding of neurological diseases and validation of potential therapeutic interventions, for which there is a dire need. However, the creation and use of GA NHPs raises serious animal welfare and ethical issues, which are highlighted here. It represents a step change in how these highly sentient animals are used in biomedical research, because of the large numbers required, inherent wastage and the sum of the harms caused to the animals involved. There is little evidence of these important issues being addressed alongside the rapidly advancing science. We are still learning about how gene editing tools work in NHPs, and significant added scientific and medical benefit from GA NHP models has yet to be demonstrated. Together, this suggests that current regulatory and review frameworks, in some jurisdictions at least, are not adequately equipped to deal with this emerging, complex area of NHP use.

In: Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research

The effect of food provisioning on ranging patterns of long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in non-anthropogenic areas is largely unknown, as most published studies have focused on urban macaques. In this study, we quantified habitat selection, daily path length and home range size in long-tailed macaques in Baluran National Park, East Java, Indonesia, comparing a non-provisioned to a provisioned group. To track the groups, we deployed six GPS-collars on females in both groups, of which only two collected data. Home range size (90% Auto-correlated Kernel Density Estimate) was 23 times smaller for the provisioned group (10.62 ha) than the non-provisioned group (249.90 ha). Home range size and area changed from dry to wet season for the non-provisioned group. Provisioned group home range size correlated negatively with number of visitors in the national park. Daily path length was significantly higher for the non-provisioned group. The provisioned group preferred settlements, where most of the provisioning occurred, and avoided areas with invasive acacia (Acacia nilotica). The non-provisioned group also avoided invasive acacia, preferred secondary forest in the dry season and restored savannah in the wet season. Food provisioning can affect macaque spatial ecology, by shaping daily travel length and home range size, and changing patterns of habitat selection. Even tourism in a managed national park, where provisioning is strictly prohibited although not always enforced, has significant consequences for animal behaviour and their natural ecosystems.

In: Contributions to Zoology

Assessing mosquito biodiversity is important for disease surveillance and ecosystem health assessments. Such studies are particularly needed in regions like the Caribbean, which have experienced a series of recent mosquito borne disease outbreaks but received little attention regarding its invertebrate biodiversity. Here, we report on results from a mosquito survey on the Dutch Leeward Islands (Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten and Saba), carried out in April and October 2018, which is the first integrative survey since those conducted by Van der Kuyp (1947) and Wagenaar Hummelinck (1949). Moreover, we present a novel key for adults and fourth instar larvae of the mosquitoes of the Dutch Leeward Islands. Overall, eleven species were recorded, eight on Sint Maarten, five on Saba and two on Sint Eustatius. Two new potential disease vectors, Culex nigripalpus and Aedes taeniorhynchus, were recorded on Sint Maarten. One previously recorded species, Cx. habilitator, was not retrieved from any of the islands, which is further discussed in the paper. Species indicative of natural forest which previously occurred on all three islands were absent from Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten but still present on Saba. In contrast, species indicative of human inhabitation, Ae. aegypti and Cx. quinquefasciatus, were highly abundant on Sint Maarten and Sint Eustatius and present in low numbers on Saba. Overall, the results of this study emphasize the importance of biodiversity surveys and indicate that frequent mosquito inventories may contribute to a better understanding of mosquito community composition and distribution of potential vector species.

In: Contributions to Zoology
A Study of Morality In Nature
Can we discover morality in nature? Flowers and Honeybees extends the considerable scientific knowledge of flowers and honeybees through a philosophical discussion of the origins of morality in nature. Flowering plants and honeybees form a social group where each requires the other. They do not intentionally harm each other, both reason, and they do not compete for commonly required resources. They also could not be more different. Flowering plants are rooted in the ground and have no brains. Mobile honeybees can communicate the location of flower resources to other workers. We can learn from a million-year-old social relationship how morality can be constructed and maintained over time.

The Hyalella species diversity in the high-altitude water bodies of the Andean Altiplano is addressed using mitochondrial cox1 sequences and implementing different molecular species delimitation criteria. We have recorded the presence of five major genetic lineages in the Altiplano, of which one seems to be exclusive to Lake Titicaca and nearby areas, whereas the rest occur also in other regions of South America. Eleven out of 36 South American entities diagnosed by molecular delimitation criteria in our study are likely endemic to the Titicaca and neighbouring water bodies. We have detected a remarkable disagreement between morphology and genetic data in the Titicacan Hyalella, with occurrence of several cases of the same morpho-species corresponding to several Molecular Operational Taxonomic Units (MOTUs), some even distantly related, and other instances where a particular MOTU is shared by a morphologically heterogeneous array of species, including species with body smooth and others with body heavily armoured. Species diversification and incongruence between morphological and molecular boundaries within this species assemblage may be associated to the sharp changes in hydrological conditions experienced by the water bodies of the Altiplano in the past, which included dramatic fluctuations in water level and salinity of Lake Titicaca. Such environmental shifts could have triggered rapid morphological changes and ecological differentiation within the Hyalella assemblage, followed by phenotypic convergence among the diverse lineages. Factors such as phenotypic plasticity, incomplete lineage sorting or admixture between divergent lineages might lie also at the root of the morphological-genetic incongruence described herein.

In: Contributions to Zoology