31 May, 2012

More on Buthus phylogeny: Buthus elmoutaouakili in Morocco

My last blog post was about the situation for Buthus phylogeny and taxonomy. Today I learned about another contribution to the knowledge of Buthus in Northern Africa from Martin Husemann and co-workers.

When low dispersal ability of an organism meets geographical barriers, the evolution of inter- and intraspecific differentiation is often facilitated. In the Atlas massif of North Africa, the genus Buthus splits into several species and diverges into numerous genetic lineages, often following the orographic structures of mountain systems. Such high mountain ranges often act as barriers for species with reduced mobility even on small spatial scales. To study the effect of orographic structures on organisms with low dispersal ability, we collected 61 individuals of the scorpion species Buthus elmoutaouakili at 18 locations around the southwestern foothills of the High Atlas and Antiatlas and in the Sousse valley (western Morocco). We analyzed intraspecific differentiation patterns within this geographically restricted area of about 100 x 50 km using 452 bp of the cytochrome oxidase I mitochondrial gene. We detected 5 distinct genetic lineages. In a second analysis, we added 61 previously published sequences from Buthus species from Europe and North Africa. Using a molecular clock approach, we detected old splits (4–5 Ma) separating the samples from 1) the western High Atlas and north of these mountains, 2) the Sousse valley and adjoining mountain areas, and 3) the southwestern Antiatlas. Further differentiation happened in the first 2 geographical groups about 3 Ma. Thus, the divergence time estimates based on a Bayesian approach support the onset of differentiation into these main clades along the Pliocene (5–2.3 Ma) when climatic oscillations started and a constant global cooling preceded the glacial–interglacial cycles of the Pleistocene. Further genetic splits into parapatric groups are detectable for the Sousse valley main group in the early Pleistocene. The climatic oscillations of the Pliocene and early Pleistocene might have caused repeated range shifts, expansions, and retractions leading to repeated vicariance, hereby producing the hierarchical structure of genetic differentiation in B. elmoutaouakili. A taxonomic revision, including morphological and molecular data, is needed to assess the status of each of these Buthus scorpion lineages.

Husemann M, Schmitt T, Stathi I, Habel JC. Evolution and Radiation in the Scorpion Buthus elmoutaouakili Lourenço and Qi 2006 (Scorpiones: Buthidae) at the Foothills of the Atlas Mountains (North Africa). J Hered. 2012;103(2):221-9. [Subscription required for full text]

Thanks to professor Wilson Lourenco for informing me about this article!

Family Buthidae

25 May, 2012

Phylogeographic patterns of Buthus from Europe and Northern Africa

In the last decade several new species of Buthus Leach, 1815 have been described from southern Europe and North Africa. In spite of this, the morphological identification of the Buthus species is still very difficult, mainly because of many descriptions and the few keys available use ambiguous and difficult characters.

Sousa and co-workers have recently published a very interesting paper that is the first step in the process of understanding the taxonomy and phylogeny of the genus Buthus.

The genus Buthus is a medium diverse scorpion genus, with 35 species distributed from Portugal and Morocco ranging eastward to Yemen in the Arabic Peninsula. The bulk of the genus’ known species diversity occurs in the Western Mediterranean area. A recent molecular study started to elucidate the patterns of diversity of this genus in the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghreb. Since then, the taxonomy of the genus has changed substantially, with several new species having been described, and with the elevation of former subspecies to species-level. In this study, we assessed the patterns of diversity of Buthus scorpions from across the Maghreb region of North Africa using CO1 DNA sequence data. Based on our dataset of 147 sequences, including 67 new sequences, we recovered four wellsupported deep clades within Buthus scorpions from the Maghreb and Southern Europe. This further strengthens the support for cryptic diversity in the Maghreb region. The broader sampling of the Maghreb permitted a better understanding of the phylogeographic structure in this area. Three clades were restricted to Morocco and appear to have originated at the Atlantic Coast of this country, while the fourth was found throughout the region. We propose a model with two colonizing events to explain the distribution patterns across the Strait of Gibraltar, with an initial colonization from North Africa to Iberia followed by a reinvasion of the Rif Mountains region in Morocco.

Sousa P, Harris DJ, Froufe E, Van der Meijden A. Phylogeographic patterns of Buthus scorpions (Scorpiones: Buthidae) in the Maghreb and South-Western Europe based on CO1 mtDNA sequences. J Zool. 2012. Published ahead of print. [Subscription required for full text]

Family Buthidae

21 May, 2012

Scorpions of Iran - Part VIII: Fars Province

Part VIII of a major review of the scorpions of Iran has been published in issue 139 of the journal Euscorpius.

The paper lists 18 species (four new records for the province) in three families from the Fars Province and their distribution.

An identification key for the species in the province is given. Some good habitat pictures are presented.

18 species of scorpions belonging to three families are reported from the Fars Province of Iran. Of these, four species are recorded from the province for the first time: Compsobuthus persicus Navidpour, Soleglad, Fet et Kovařík, 2008, Mesobuthus eupeus persicus (Pocock, 1899), Odontobuthus bidentatus Lourenço et Pézier, 2002, and Scorpio maurus townsendi (Pocock, 1900). Also presented is a key to all species of scorpions found in the province.

Navidpour S, Fet V, Kovarik F, Soleglad ME. Scorpions of iran (Arachnida, Scorpiones). part VIII. Fars Province. Euscorpius. 2012(139):1-29. [Free full text]

07 May, 2012

New Vaejovis from the Hualapai Mountains in Arizona

Davis Sissom and co-workers have described a new species of Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae) from the Hualapai Mountains in Arizona (USA).

Vaejovis tenuipalpus Sissom, Hughes, Bryson Jr. & Prendini, 2012

Photo: Rich Ayrey (C)

A new species in the vorhiesi group of Vaejovis C.L. Koch, 1836 (Vaejovidae Thorell, 1876), which appears to be endemic to the Hualapai Mountains near Kingman, Arizona, is described and illustrated. Vaejovis tenuipalpus, n. sp., the 11th species in the vorhiesi group, is compared to morphologically similar species, including V. jonesi Stahnke, 1940, V. lapidicola Stahnke, 1940, V. vorhiesi Stahnke, 1940, and V. deboerae Ayrey, 2009. The new species possesses the most slender pedipalp chelae in the vorhiesi group. New distribution records and a comprehensive distribution map are provided for all Arizona members of the group.

Sissom WD, Hughes GB, Bryson Jr RW, Prendini L. The vorhiesi group of Vaejovis C. L. Koch, 1836 (Scorpiones: Vaejovidae), in Arizona, with description of a new species from the Hualapai Mountains. American Museum Novitates. 2012(3742):1-19. [Free full text]

Thanks to Gerard Dupre for sending me this paper!Thanks to Rich Ayrey for sharing a picture of the new species with us!

Family Vaejovidae