Diversity, taxonomy, and biogeography of the reptiles inhabiting the highlands of the Cordillera Central (Serranía de Talamanca and Serranía de Tabasará) in western Panama

  • Panama is a megadiverse country that together with Costa Rica constitutes Lower Central America (LCA). Western Panama's Cordillera Central accounts for the eastern part of the LCA highlands shared between these countries. The aim of the present study is to compile the most complete and updated picture possible of the taxonomy, diversity, and distribution of reptiles that occur from 500 m asl upwards along the Talamanca and Tabasará ranges. These two continuous mountain ridges account for the western two-thirds of the Cordillera Central between the Costa Rican border and 81°W Including specimens collected four own research travels, I morphologically examined more than 1800 specimens, analyzed 16S and/or COI barcodes of 300 specimens, and performed a thorough search in literature and databases to obtain locality records for specimens and species occurrences. My complete occurrence dataset comprises 14620 georeferenced occurrence records in three quality categories. Conceivable occurrences of species not yet documented from a given area are evaluated on the basis of existing data either as "plausible" or "possible". I provide all datasets which I generated for this study in Appendices. The previously published descriptions of Dactyloa ginaelisae Lotzkat, Hertz, Bienentreu & Köhler 2013, Norops benedikti (Lotzkat, Bienentreu, Hertz & Köhler 2011), Sibon perissostichon Köhler, Lotzkat & Hertz 2010, and Sibon noalamina Lotzkat, Hertz & Köhler 2012 are included in the present work. In the course of integrative taxonomic analyses, I classify 15 genealogical lineages revealed by DNA barcoding within 7 anole species as Deep Conspecific Lineages (DCLs) because they lack consistent morphological differences to their nominal conspecifics. I provisionally classify 18 mitochondrial lineages found within six other anole species as Unconfirmed Genealogical Lineages (UGLs) pending adequate analyses of their morphological variation. I regard the two additional UGLs Celestus sp. and Geophis sp. and the two Confirmed Genealogical Lineages (CGLs) Lepidoblepharis sp. 1 and 2 to represent undescribed species. My taxonomic analyses yield the hitherto most comprehensive survey of the variability exhibited by dozens of reptile species in western Panama. The 16S and/or COI barcodes I provide represent 65 species recognized herein and constitute the first DNA barcode reference library for LCA reptiles. The reptile fauna of Panama comprises 265 species, including the four UGLs and CGLs mentioned above and characterized for the first time in this study, as well as Dendrophidion crybelum Cadle 2012 whose presence in the country I consider plausible. My occurrence dataset reveals that 160 of these species have been documented to occur in my study area. Adding the 20 species whose occurrence therein I consider plausible, I report the total species richness of the Talamanca and Tabasará ranges as comprising 180 species representing 81 genera in 25 families. With 178.8 species per 10 000 km2, the relative species richness of the area is extremely high even in a tropical context. In view of their overall documented distribution, I regard the presence of 27 additional species in my study area as possible. For the 180 species occurring in my study area I provide standardized species accounts that, together with the taxonomic results, for the first time permit the doubtless identification of all 180 species, and illustrate 168 of these with color photographs. Concerning biogeography, my georeferenced dataset yields noteworthy distribution extensions for many species. Moreover, I present the hitherto most comprehensive, detailed, and reproducible assessments of the distribution patterns, historical origins, and conservation as well as of the occurrence among physiographic regions, climatic and altitudinal belts, political subdivisions, and protected areas, for my study area's reptile fauna. With 65 species, more than a third of the fauna is endemic to LCA. Among these, 42 Talamancan highland endemics are restricted to the LCA highlands, in the case of 16 small-scale highland endemics with documented ranges spanning less than 100 km. I assess many of these endemics as endangered. The fact that several of these species do not occur in any protected area renders the establishment of additional conservation areas necessary, especially in the central Serranía de Tabasará. Distributional range boundaries shared among different clades of highland anoles indicate physiographic and climatic barriers that may have effected in situ speciation within these lineages. As the largest study on Panamanian reptile diversity assembled to date, the present dissertation considerably increases our knowledge on the reptiles along the Cordillera Central and beyond, and thus constitutes a solid basis for future studies.

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Author:Sebastian Lotzkat
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Bruno StreitGND, Gunther KöhlerORCiDGND, Wolfgang Böhme
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2015/07/09
Year of first Publication:2014
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2015/06/25
Release Date:2015/07/16
Page Number:931
Gekürzte Abstracts in dt. und span. Sprache sind in der zip-Datei vorhanden.
Institutes:Biowissenschaften / Biowissenschaften
Biowissenschaften / Institut für Ökologie, Evolution und Diversität
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Sammlung Biologie / Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht