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 . 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 . 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.

Dwarfish males are a relatively common phenomenon in animals, occurring in various taxa, most often when females conduct a sedentary life mode. Such males, beside smaller size, exhibit a series of morphological and anatomical alterations, mostly structural reductions. Here we present the case of the alimentary tract of dwarfish males of the aphid genus Stomaphis where, despite it being structurally normal, it does not serve its original function due to a lack of mouthparts. Cross-sections through mounted specimens revealed also that nervous and reproductive systems are fully developed. The question arises as to whether such a system may be considered vestigial, or an exaptation with secondary function shifted to play new primary function. Because the aphid genus Stomaphis is known from the fossil record to have existed for at least ca. 14 My and all of its species have dwarfish, arostral males, this indicates that it may be too short a period for reduction of the whole system. It also raises questions about the mechanisms of loss of the primary functionality of the whole physiological unit, and the influence of such modification on the evolution of its phylogenetic successors. Secondary functions of the tract are speculated to be responsible for its endurance.

In: Contributions to Zoology

The first comparative morphology study on antennal sensilla of Ochteridae, Gelastocoridae and Aphelocheiridae, carried out with the use of a scanning electron microscope, is provided. Our research hypothesis was: the antennal sensilla of the studied families reflect their different adaptations for use in aquatic habitats, while maintaining a common set of sensilla similar to other water bugs (Nepomorpha). Therefore, the number and placement of antennal sensilla of several species in the mentioned families were studied using scanning electron microscopy. Nine main types of mechano- chemo- and thermo-hygroreceptive sensilla were confirmed on their surface, including sensilla trichodea, chaetica, club-like, campaniformia, basiconica, coeloconica, plate-like, ampullacea and sensilla placodea multilobated. While seven of these were already documented in other species, two of them (sensilla plate-like and placodea multilobated) were yet to be documented on the antennae of Nepomorpha. All families display differences in the shape and length of antennae as well as among sensilla types. These findings support our hypothesis regarding differences in sensillar structures among families adapted differently to suitable niches. Differences between these families and previously studied nepomorphan taxa (Nepoidea) were also documented. However, the general set of sensilla observed on the antennae of the studied species is very similar to the one documented in Nepoidea. Therefore, we confirmed our assumptions regarding similarities in antennal sensilla between the studied families and other nepomorphan insects.

In: Contributions to Zoology

Anthropogenic environmental change is leading to changes in distribution for many organisms. While this is frequently discussed for prominent organisms of high conservation value, the same is true for the many cryptic species that rarely figure in debates on the human impact. One such cryptic taxon is the European Ptomaphagus sericatus () and related forms. During a citizen science expedition in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, we obtained two forms of this species complex. We placed the examination of these specimens in the context of a re-analysis of the species group, and, using DNA barcoding and genital study on material collected thoughout Europe, found that the P. sericatus species complex consists of three distinct, partly sympatric species, one of which was previously undescribed. On the basis of collection data, at least two species, P. medius and P. thebeatles sp. n., show signs of having recently undergone (possibly anthropogenic) range changes, with P. medius even reaching North America. We describe P. thebeatles sp. n.; we raise two subspecies, viz. P. sericatus sericatus (Chaudoir, 1854) and P. sericatus medius () to the level of species, and designate a neotype for the former; we identify P. dacicus and P. pyrenaeus as junior synonyms of P. sericatus, and P. compressitarsus () as a junior synonym of P. subvillosus Goeze, 1777; we identify P. septentrionalis and P. miser () as junior synonyms of P. medius; we designate lectotypes for P. medius and P. miser.

In: Contributions to Zoology

The interplay between intrinsic (development, physiology, behavior) and extrinsic (landscape features, climate) factors determines the outcome of admixture processes in hybrid zones, in a continuum from complete genetic merger to full reproductive isolation. Here we assess the role of environmental correlates in shaping admixture patterns in the long hybrid zone formed by the toads Bufo bufo and B. spinosus in western Europe. We used species-specific diagnostic SNP markers to genotype 6584 individuals from 514 localities to describe the contact zone and tested for association with topographic, bioclimatic and land use variables. Variables related to temperature and precipitation contributed to accurately predict the distribution of pure populations of each species, but the models did not perform well in areas where genetically admixed populations occur. A sliding window approach proved useful to identify different sets of variables that are important in different sections of this long and heterogeneous hybrid zone, and offers good potential to predict the fate of moving contact zones in global change scenarios.

In: Contributions to Zoology

Knowledge about the development of the nervous system in cirripeds is limited, particularly with regard to the changes that take place during the two metamorphoses their larvae undergo. This study delivers the first detailed description of the development of the nervous system in a cirriped species, Amphibalanus improvisus by using immunohistochemical labeling against acetylated alpha-tubulin, and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The development of the nervous system in the naupliar stages corresponds largely to that in other crustaceans. As development progresses, the protocerebral sensory organs differentiate and the intersegmental nerves forming the complex peripheral nervous system appear, innervating the sensory structures of the cephalic shield. During metamorphosis into a cypris the lateral sides of the cephalic shield fold down into a bilateral carapace, which leads to a reorganization of the peripheral nervous system. The syncerebrum of the cypris exhibits the highest degree of complexity of all developmental stages, innervating the frontal filaments, nauplius eye, compound eyes and the antennules. During settlement, when the second metamorphosis occur, the closely associated frontal filaments and compound eyes are shed together with the cuticle of the carapace and the antennules. In adults, the syncerebral structures are reduced while the ventral nerve cord and the peripheral nervous system increase in complexity. The peripheral nervous system plays an important role in processing sensory input and also in settlement. In summary, through the larval development we observed a structural and thus also functional increase of complexity in favor of the peripheral nervous system and the ventral nerve cord.

In: Contributions to Zoology

Gobies (Gobiidae + Oxudercidae) are among the largest groups of extant marine fishes. Fossils of gobies are abundant since the Miocene, and many species have been reported so far. However, delimitation of fossil goby species is challenging because molecular markers and diagnostic traits such as the disposition of sensory head papillae are lost. This study provides, for the first time, an actualistic framework for the identification of fossil goby species. We focus on characters that can in principle be recognized in fossils, and evaluate their ability to discriminate between extant goby species based on statistical analyses. Using 14 extant species of Gobius and seven species of Pomatoschistus, we conducted otolith morphometry, elliptic Fourier shape analysis of otoliths using the package ‘Momocs’, conventional fish morphometry, and meristic counts. In addition, the otoliths of all species are depicted based on SEM images and briefly described. Otolith Fourier shape analysis proved to be most efficient in discrimination of species within both genera, Gobius and Pomatoschistus. Several characters used in the other approaches also worked well, but the results were variable, and the relative taxonomic significance of particular variables tended to change depending on the species under consideration. We propose otolith shape analysis as a powerful tool to explore ancient goby species diversity when samples with abundant fossil otoliths are present. Overall, the herein presented data will greatly facilitate delimitation of fossil goby species in future studies, and will consequently shed new light on the evolution of goby diversity and biogeography through time.

In: Contributions to Zoology