Variation in colouration has rarely been related to sexual selection in
anuran amphibians, even though such a relationship has been proven for many
other vertebrate taxa. Male and female Moor Frogs (Rana arvalis) have a
cryptic brown colour pattern, but males develop a conspicuous blue nuptial
colouration during the reproductive season. To investigate the possibility
that colouration plays a role in sexual selection in this species, we
studied the temporal variation in blue colouration, determined if body size
or body temperature affected blueness and investigated if blueness of males
could be related to their mating success. Results confirmed previous
observations that males develop and maintain blue colouration for only a
very few nights during peak reproductive activity. Colouration of males was
unrelated to body size, but males exhibiting higher body temperatures were
somewhat bluer than males with lower body temperatures. Further, males in
amplexus had higher body temperatures than non-mated males. Finally, mating
success was positively related to blueness in small males, whereas in large
males no such relationship was detected. While our results align with the
hypothesis that the bright blue colouration of males may be a target of
sexual selection, alternative explanations are also discussed.
In this study, we investigate the identity and origin of a population of Iberian Wall Lizards (Podarcis hispanicus complex) that we recently discovered inside the distribution range of the nominotypical form P. hispanicus. In the field, these animals were clearly identified as different from this species but their identity remained problematic. Using morphological and mitochondrial DNA analyses, we here identify this population as P. vaucheri, which constitutes a significant range extension for this species. Molecular results suggest a North African origin to this population. However, according to morphological results, these individuals are closer to the Spanish morphotype than to the North African morphotypes of P. vaucheri. Taken together, these results suggest a human-mediated introduction as the origin of this population, with local adaptation or phenotypic plasticity responsible of phenotypic convergence.
We report the discovery of a population of the exotic North African Water Frog Pelophylax saharicus around the Etang de Berre, on the Mediterranean coast of France, about 25 km north-west of Marseille. The animals had been originally identified as P. perezi or P. kl. grafi by a combination of acoustic and morphological characters and their true identity was not revealed until three samples from one locality were included in a large-scale genomic work dedicated to the genus Pelophylax. Mitochondrial barcoding of the samples from other areas around Etang de Berre did not detect any native P. perezi or P. kl. grafi and confirmed that P. saharicus has spread to several localities, does reproduce and has been present since 2011 at least. We suggest that dedicated field work is needed as soon as possible to (i) map the extant of P. saharicus’s distribution around the Etang de Berre, (ii) establish if populations of the native P. perezi – kl. grafi system still persist around the Etang de Berre or not and (iii) check if P. saharicus has spread to neighboring areas or not. Depending on the answers to these three questions, local conservationists will need to evaluate the feasibility and relevance of any action to control the spread of this new invasive species and attempt to eradicate it.
The last species list of the European herpetofauna was published by Speybroeck, Beukema and Crochet (2010). In the meantime, ongoing research led to numerous taxonomic changes, including the discovery of new species-level lineages as well as reclassifications at genus level, requiring significant changes to this list. As of 2019, a new Taxonomic Committee was established as an official entity within the European Herpetological Society, Societas Europaea Herpetologica (SEH). Twelve members from nine European countries reviewed, discussed and voted on recent taxonomic research on a case-by-case basis. Accepted changes led to critical compilation of a new species list, which is hereby presented and discussed. According to our list, 301 species (95 amphibians, 15 chelonians, including six species of sea turtles, and 191 squamates) occur within our expanded geographical definition of Europe. The list includes 14 non-native species (three amphibians, one chelonian, and ten squamates).
A precise knowledge of the spatial distribution of taxa is essential for decision-making processes in land management and biodiversity conservation, both for present and under future global change scenarios. This is a key base for several scientific disciplines (e.g. macro-ecology, biogeography, evolutionary biology, spatial planning, or environmental impact assessment) that rely on species distribution maps. An atlas summarizing the distribution of European amphibians and reptiles with 50 × 50 km resolution maps based on ca. 85 000 grid records was published by the Societas Europaea Herpetologica (SEH) in 1997. Since then, more detailed species distribution maps covering large parts of Europe became available, while taxonomic progress has led to a plethora of taxonomic changes including new species descriptions. To account for these progresses, we compiled information from different data sources: published in books and websites, ongoing national atlases, personal data kindly provided to the SEH, the 1997 European Atlas, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Databases were homogenised, deleting all information except species names and coordinates, projected to the same coordinate system (WGS84) and transformed into a 50 × 50 km grid. The newly compiled database comprises more than 384 000 grid and locality records distributed across 40 countries. We calculated species richness maps as well as maps of Corrected Weighted Endemism and defined species distribution types (i.e. groups of species with similar distribution patterns) by hierarchical cluster analysis using Jaccard’s index as association measure. Our analysis serves as a preliminary step towards an interactive, dynamic and online distributed database system (NA2RE system) of the current spatial distribution of European amphibians and reptiles. The NA2RE system will serve as well to monitor potential temporal changes in their distributions. Grid maps of all species are made available along with this paper as a tool for decision-making and conservation-related studies and actions. We also identify taxonomic and geographic gaps of knowledge that need to be filled, and we highlight the need to add temporal and altitudinal data for all records, to allow tracking potential species distribution changes as well as detailed modelling of the impacts of land use and climate change on European amphibians and reptiles.