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Arntzen and Kurtulus Olgun

Abstract

We studied the number of rib-bearing vertebrae, eight morphometric characters and 36 protein loci in three subspecies of the banded newt, Triturus vittatus from the Near and Middle East. The number of rib-bearing vertebrae ranged from 12 to 15. Modal count was 13 in T. v. cilicensis, T. v. vittatus and T. v. ophryticus in the western part of the range and 14 in the eastern part of the T. v. ophryticus range. Significant differences were found between groups (cilicensis plus vittatus, western ophryticus, eastern ophryticus). Significant differences in shape were observed comparing T. vittatus with T. karelinii and T. montandoni, but not among T. v. vittatus, T. v. cilicensis and T. v. ophryticus. Genetic differentiation within T. v. ophryticus reached DNei = 0.24, which was similar to the distance observed between T. v. vittatus and T. v. cilicensis (DNei = 0.18). The two groups clustered at DNei = 0.58. We discuss the question whether T. v. ophryticus should be raised to species level.

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Ferhat Kiremit, Ertan Taşkavak, James Parham, Oğuz Türkozan and Kurtuluş Olgun

Abstract

In the last decade, Asian populations of Testudo graeca were split into as many as 10 species based on morphology and morphometry and then subsequently synonymized based on genetic evidence. We generate new morphometric data for six of these disputed species from Turkey, a major center of morphological and genetic diversity for Asian T. graeca. We test the concordance of our data with previous morphological assignments. Our morphometric data and analyses do not support all of the results of previous morphometric studies. Instead we find that putatively named taxa from the Mediterranean coast (“antakyensis”, “anamurensis”, and “terrestris”) are not morphometrically distinct. On the other hand, some inland populations from eastern Turkey (“armeniaca” and “perses”) are morphometrically distinct as previously claimed. Tortoise populations from northern and southern Turkey, which may correspond to the ibera and terrestris mt clades, also appear to be morphometrically distinct. In this respect, the morphometric data reflects the emerging genetic pattern, although the picture is complicated by a lack of genetic sampling within Turkey and morphometric studies outside of Turkey.

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Kurtulus Olgun, Azız Avci, Nazan Uzum and Claude Miaud

Abstract

We studied the characteristics of bone growth assessed by skeletochronology in a southern crested newt Triturus karelinii (Urodela) population from Western Turkey. The timing and patterns of bone arrested growth were observed using the phalanges of juveniles and adults that were caught in spring at a breeding site. A metamorphosis line was found in the juveniles. In some adults, a classical succession of single lines of arrested growth was observed in about 50% of the cross sections. However, the other adults exhibited a succession of double lines of arrested growth in their phalanges. Due to the arid summer and cold winter climate in the Bozdag region (1200 m a.s.l.), we argue that in this last case, the lines of arrested growth were deposited during both the summer (aestivation) and winter (wintering). Body length, age and growth were similar in males and females. The age of maturity was 3 to 4 years old and longevity was 8 and 11 years in males and females respectively. Body length and age among taxonomically related large bodied newts of the T. cristatus complex were reported from populations experiencing various environmental conditions. Body length and age at maturity were similar to that observed in other newt species. However, longevity seems to be lower than expected in the T. karelinii studied population. We hypothesized that the arid climate of Bozdag could cause a higher mortality risk during the terrestrial phase of the life cycle. Studying more populations exposed to various conditions is clearly needed to assess interpopulational variation of these life-history traits in this newt species.

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Bilal Kutrup, Kurtuluş Olgun, Nurhayat özdemir, Nazan üzüm and Serkan Gül

Abstract

We estimated differences in body size and age structure of two populations of Pelophylax ridibundus living at different altitudes in Turkey, one from Dörtyol (6 m a.s.l.) and the other from Karagöl (1480 m a.s.l.). Their age structure was determined by skeletochronology performed on the LAGs (lines of arrested growth) of the phalanges. While ages ranged from 2 to 8 years for males and from 2 to 7 years for females in Karagöl, in Dörtyol the ages ranged from 4 to 11 years for males, and 3 to 7 years for females. Sexual size dimorphism was only found in the Dörtyol population. Larger females tend to be found in hotter climates (Dörtyol) but reach maturity later (3-4 years) than the highland population (2 years). A significant relationship between age and snout-vent length (SVL) was found for both sexes and populations with the exception of females in Dörtyol.

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Ralf Hendrix, Jürgen Fleck, Willi Schneider, Christoph Schneider, Daniel Geller, Aziz Avci, Kurtulus Olgun and Sebastian Steinfartz

Due to their extraordinary coloration, mountain brook newts of the genus Neurergus found in the Near East have fascinated herpetologists since their initial description more than 150 years ago. Although the monophyly of Neurergus newts within the Salamandridae has been unambiguously shown for mitochondrial genes, and recent comprehensive molecular phylogenies placed Neurergus as a sister taxon of banded newts (genus Ommatotriton), we know almost nothing about the structure and relatedness of populations at the intraspecific level. In this study, we therefore analysed sequence variation of a mitochondrial DNA segment (covering a partial region of the control region and the 12S ribosomal RNA) from more than 100 individuals and of two nuclear genes (KIAA and SACS) for a representative subset of individuals originating from nine distinct populations, representing N. strauchii, N. crocatus and N. microspilotus. We also studied individuals of N. derjugini, a taxon that has long been synonymized as N. crocatus, and of which individuals have not been accessible to the scientific community since its original description in 1916. Our results suggest high genetic diversity of populations within species for the mitochondrial DNA marker, while the resolution of applied nuclear genes did not go beyond the level of species. For N. strauchii and N. crocatus, two species that inhabit the largest geographic ranges within the genus, we found a high proportion of diversity both within and between populations for the mitochondrial control region. Individuals of N. microspilotus and N. derjugini only displayed considerable genetic differentiation for one nuclear gene (SACS), while only very little or none genetic differentiation could be found for the mitochondrial control region and the KIAA gene, respectively. As both taxa are also morphologically not well differentiated, we suggest on the basis of the current dataset to taxonomically synonymize N. microspilotus due to priority reasons as N. derjugini. It can be therefore concluded that the most accurate taxonomy of the genus Neurergus should consider N. crocatus, N. strauchii, N. kaiseri and N. derjugini as valid taxonomic units at the species level.

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Daniel Jablonski, Zoltán T. Nagy, Aziz Avcı, Kurtuluş Olgun, Oleg V. Kukushkin, Barbod Safaei-Mahroo and David Jandzik

Abstract

The smooth snake, Coronella austriaca, is a common snake species widespread in the Western Palearctic region. It does not form conspicuous morphological variants and, although several evolutionary lineages have been distinguished based on the analyses of the mitochondrial DNA sequences, only two subspecies with very limited distribution have been traditionally recognized. Here we present an mtDNA phylogeography of the species using geographically extended sampling while incorporating biogeographically important areas that have not been analyzed before, such as Anatolia, Crimea, and Iran. We find that the smooth snake comprises 14 distinct phylogenetic clades with unclear mutual relationships, characterized by complex genetic structure and relatively deep divergences; some of them presumably of Miocene origin. In general, the biogeographic pattern is similar to other Western Palearctic reptiles and illustrates the importance of the main European peninsulas as well as the Anatolian mountains, Caucasus, and Alborz Mts. in Iran for the evolution of the present-day diversity. Considerable genetic structure present in the smooth snake populations within these large areas indicates the existence of several regional Plio-Pleistocene refugia that served as reservoirs for dispersal and population expansions after the glacial periods. The current taxonomy of C. austriaca does not reflect the rich genetic diversity, deep divergences, and overall evolutionary history revealed in our study and requires a thorough revision. This will only be possible with an even higher-resolution sampling and integrative approach, combining analyses of multiple genetic loci with morphology, and possibly other aspects of the smooth snake biology.

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Yücel Koca, Nazan Üzüm, Mehmet Turgut, Süleyman Kaplan, Murat Rağbetli, Emrah Soylu, Kurtuluş Olgun, Kubilay Metin, Elif Beytaş and Aziz Avcı

Abstract

Ca2+ ions have been reported to augment the activities of many cell types including cellular proliferation and tissue regeneration. Moreover, it is well known that verapamil is a L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ antagonist with important clinical implications. To evaluate the role of Ca2+ ions in the regeneration of tail in lizards, verapamil was used in vivo to modulate the activity of intracellular Ca2+ in a lizard tail autotomy model. A total of 35 adult lizards were divided into three groups: lightness control group (n = 11), darkness group (n = 11) and verapamil treatment group (n = 13). The tails of adult lizards were amputated by pinching off the tail at the 15th segment from the vent to induce tail regeneration. The first two groups served as untreated constant lightness and darkness groups as controls, but the remaining group received intraperitoneally 1 mg/kg of verapamil. Following autotomy, the length of regenerating tails was measured at 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 days post-amputation. At the end of the study, the regenerating tails from animals from each group were removed for collagen assay procedure and histological examination. We found that verapamil produced a reduction in the length of the regenerated tail compared to untreated lightness group and the percentage of tail replaced in verapamil treatment group was lower than those in lightness control group. Total collagen contents were found to be higher in lightness control group in comparison with darkness and verapamil treatment groups. Accordingly, a quantitative stereological evaluation showed a higher percentage of neural tissue and a lower percentage of connective tissue, as well as vascular tissue, in the cross-sections of the regenerated tails taken from Ca2+ channel blocker verapamil-treated lizards, as compared to other groups. In conclusion, our results suggest that verapamil influences a variety of processes including fibroblast collagen production, neurogenesis, and angiogenesis during tail regeneration in lizard, possibly due to inhibition of intracellular Ca2+ ion by verapamil.

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Ben Wielstra, Daniele Canestrelli, Milena Cvijanović, Mathieu Denoël, Anna Fijarczyk, Daniel Jablonski, Marcin Liana, Borislav Naumov, Kurtuluş Olgun, Maciej Pabijan, Alice Pezzarossa, Georgi Popgeorgiev, Daniele Salvi, Yali Si, Neftalí Sillero, Konstantinos Sotiropoulos, Piotr Zieliński and Wiesław Babik

Abstract

The ‘smooth newt’, the taxon traditionally referred to as Lissotriton vulgaris, consists of multiple morphologically distinct taxa. Given the uncertainty concerning the validity and rank of these taxa, L. vulgaris sensu lato has often been treated as a single, polytypic species. A recent study, driven by genetic data, proposed to recognize five species, L. graecus, L. kosswigi, L. lantzi, L. schmidtleri and a more restricted L. vulgaris. The Carpathian newt L. montandoni was confirmed to be a closely related sister species. We propose to refer to this collective of six Lissotriton species as the smooth newt or Lissotriton vulgaris species complex. Guided by comprehensive genomic data from throughout the range of the smooth newt species complex we 1) delineate the distribution ranges, 2) provide a distribution database, and 3) produce distribution maps according to the format of the New Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe, for the six constituent species. This allows us to 4) highlight regions where more research is needed to determine the position of contact zones.