Contents of Proceedings of the Zoological Institute

Volume 322 (2), 2018

Date of publication — June 25, 2018

Rediscovery of the steppe viper in Georgia

The steppe viper was rediscovered in Georgia after 75 years. A comprehensive analysis of external morphology, altitude gradient in habitats, typology of biotopes and genetic analysis revealed a high degree of similarity of populations of the steppe vipers from Azerbaijan, known as Pelias shemakhensis Tuniyev et al., 2013, and from East Georgia. These data were used for comparative study and description of a new subspecies – P. shemakhensis kakhetiensis ssp. nov. The subspecies name is after historical region of Georgia – Kakheti, where a large part of the range is located. In the pattern of recent distribution of P. shemakhensis, there are common habitat and climatic characteristics in Georgian and Azerbaijan parts of this its range. Its position among the species complex and relations with other taxa of this complex are discussed. Based on the results of the cluster and discriminant analyses, P. eriwanensis and P. lotievi should be given a subspecies rank, whereas P. shemakhensis clearly deserves a species rank. Results of the genetic analysis are opposite: P. shemakhensis and P. eriwanensis are considered as sister species. We continue to share an idea about autochthonous origin for small shield-head vipers of the Caucasus, taking into account their ancient origin in the Caucasian Ecoregion and astonished variety of forms of the “kaznakovi”-complex and “ursinii”-complex both on the Great Caucasus and in the Transcaucasia.

A new subspecies of the black redstart – Phoenicurus ochruros murinus subsp. nov. from the Altai-Sayan Mountainous Country and the current breeding range of the black redstart

On the basis of literature and collection materials, as well as photographs with geo-referencing from various sources, the actual breeding range of the Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros (Gmelin, 1774) was compiled. For the Asian part of the range, a probabilistic model is constructed for the geographic distribution of the species by the maximum entropy method, which is used to refine the range in some of its regions. Based on the collection materials of the Zoological Museum of the Moscow State University (Moscow), Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg) and Institute of Zoology of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty), a comparison of the breeding plumages of adult male Black Redstarts from the Asian part of the range was carried out. The revealed differences made it possible to describe a new subspecies from Altai, Tuva, Northern China and Western Mongolia – Phoenicurus ochruros murinus Fedorenko subsp. nov., which is distinguished from the neighboring Turkestan subspecies Ph. o. phoenicuroides by the absence of any contrast in the colour of the head, nape and back; all of which are concolourous dark grey. From Latin, the subspecies name “murinus” is translated as “mouse grey”, which characterises the colour of the upperparts of the bird. A revision of other subspecies of the Asian Black Redstart group was carried out and a map of their distribution was compiled.

Species-specific attraction call of the blackbird (Turdus merula) in the periods of seasonal migration and breeding

We present the results of the analysis of 346 spectrograms of the species-specific attraction call tsiirr issued during daytime and night migration, at migratory stopovers and during breeding by Blackbirds (Turdus merula). The duration of this type signal varies within the range of 102–359 ms, and its frequency is in the intermediate and high frequency range from 5.1 to 9.9 kHz. In the spectrograms most tsiirr signals have one high-frequency and one lower-frequency modulated band. It is assumed that such a structure of this signal allows the birds to maintain contact at a great distance and to determine each other’s spatial position. Temporary and frequency characteristics of the species-specific attraction calls of Blackbirds during nocturnal and daytime migration did not differ significantly. The species-specific attraction calls during the migration flight had on average a much narrower range of sounding than at stopovers. This difference could have been caused by stronger degradation of the signal structure during propagation in migratory flight than at stopovers. The analysis of the spectrograms of the species-specific attraction calls in two pairs of adult Blackbirds during breeding revealed significant individual variation. Signals of migrating individuals at stopovers were shorter and broader than in adult breeding Blackbirds. Our studies of Blackbird acoustic signals, as well as of signals of two other thrush species, Song Thrushes (T. philomelos) and Redwings (T. iliacus), show that during diurnal and nocturnal migratory flights, they use only one type of signal, the speciesspecific attraction call. This call is also used by the birds for communication during migratory stopovers. No specialized migratory signals are given by thrushes during their seasonal movements.

Contribution of Russian zoologists to the collecting and first descriptions of the World avian fauna

A brief overview is given of the formation of museum collections of birds in Russia, collected as a result of academic expeditions around the world and across Russia. The imperishable value of zoological collections, concentrated in zoological museums and institutes, is underlined. The results of expeditions are described in chronology, beginning with 18th century (they were conducted under the auspices of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Imperial Russian Geographical Society): the First Siberian expedition (D.G. Messershmidt), the First Kamchatka and the Great Northern expeditions (V.I. Bering, А.I. Chirikov, G.F. Muller, G.V. Stoller, I.G. Gmelin, S.P. Krasheninnikov), Great academic expeditions across Russia (P.S. Pallas, S.G. Gmelin, I.A. Guldenstadt, I.I. Lepyokhin, I.P. Falk, I.G. Georgi), round-the-world sea expeditions (I.F. Kruzenshtern and Yu.F. Lisyansky, F.F. Bellingshausen and M.P. Lazarev, F.G. Kittlitz and A.K. Mertens), as well as expeditions to Brazil (G. I. Langsdorf and E.P. Menetries) and expedition of I.G. Voznesensky in Russian America, the Commanders and Kamchatka. Reference is made to the importance of zoological expeditions of K.F. von Baer, A.F. Middendorf, G.I. Radde, N.A. Severtsov, M.N. Bogdanov, G.E. and M.E. Grumm-Grzhimailo. Particular attention is paid to the great Asian campaigns to Central Asia in the late XIX – early XX century of NM. Przevalsky, V.I. Roborovsky, P.K. Kozlov, G.N. Potanin, M.V. Pevtsov, B.L. Grombchevsky, M.A. Pyltsov and N.A. Zarudny. The contribution of the ornithologists of Russia M.N.Bogdanov, M.M. Berezovsky, M.A. Menzbir, V.L. Bianchi, F.D. Pleske, V.I. Dybowski, V.A. Godlewski, M.I. Jankowski, V.K. Taczanowski, P.P. Sushkin and S.A. Buturlin to the bird systematics at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of XX century is described. In conclusion, it is said about the unique value of zoological collections for the study of taxonomy and phylogeny, including on the basis of molecular genetic studies.

Bison bonasus bonasus as a museum exhibit in the 18th – early 20th centuries

The paper discusses the Białowieża bison (Bison bonasus bonasus) as a museum exhibit in the 18th – early 20th centuries, basing on the analysis of archival documents, mainly from St. Petersburg. One of the last remnants of extinct megafauna once roaming through Europe, by the Early Modern time it had been eliminated in the most part of its previous range. In the 16th –18th century, it had the status of a natural curiosity and an exclusively royal game. In the 18th century, the carcasses of the European bison from the imperial menageries went into the cabinets of curiosities where they became the objects of study for naturalists. By the late 18th century, the last population of the European lowland bison had survived in Białowieża Primeval Forest, which became a part of the Russian Empire with the Third partition of Poland. The attention of the Imperial family, which preserved the system of protection of the European bison and the forest where they lived, ensured the survival of the species till WWI. The development of zoology and zoological collections provided a new status to the Białowieża bison – the status of a valuable gift of the Russian Tsar to a scientific community. To receive such a precious gift, a scientific community had to use its diplomatic and bureaucratic channels, to recruit a naturalist willing to travel to Białowieża, to organize a hunt, to process the skin and bones, and finally, to deliver this massive package to a museum. Nevertheless, throughout the second half of the 19th century, most requests made by European and Russian naturalists were granted and the majority of zoological museums received the European bison from Białowieża, either in form of a stuffed animal, a skeleton, or at least a skull. The transformation of the 17–18th century Kunstkammern into research zoological institutions and the development of taxidermy went in parallel with the transformation of the European bison as a museum exhibit. Stuffed animals became anatomically accurate; new expositions included habitat groups, and some institutions amassed extensive collections for comparative study. The presence of the European bison almost in every major European museum made them well known for wider public. In 1919, the last Białowieża bison was killed in the wild, but the popularity of this species helped the restitution of the animal. Nowadays, the “old” specimens are of interest not only from a historical point of view, but also as a source of samples for genetic research.

Variability and its types: the differential approach

One of the key aims of current biology is to describe adequately the tremendous multiplicity of living organisms. This aim requires clear terminological apparatus. However, many terms traditionally used in such descriptions are rather vague and ambiguous. In particular, this relates to ‘variability’ and ‘variation’. In the present review, we carried out a critical analysis of these terms. We demonstrate that the widely accepted tradition to consider them as almost synonymous is incorrect. Moreover, both terms are initially ambiguous and thus are poorly suitable for biologists. To avoid this ambiguity, we clearly delineate three phenomena: 1) biological changeability, 2) certain biological changes, and 3) biological diversity. There is an obvious three-component relation between them: changeability realizes in certain biological changes (metamorphoses, mutations, modifications, etc.) which in turn result in biological diversity. Herein, the first component is entirely dynamic (the ability of living organisms to undergo various changes), the second aggregates both dynamic and static aspects (a certain event leads to a specific state), and the third is represented by some static ‘cadaster’, which describes the state of a given biological unity at some point of time. We classified different types of changeability. To create such classification, autonomous aspects of changeability should be distinguished and each of them should be considered separately. This approach (we name it ‘the differential concept of changeability’) allows successful resolution of multiple terminological problems in current biology.

Volume 322 (1), 2018

Date of publication — March 23, 2018

On taxonomic status of shiled-head vipers from Turkish Lesser Caucasus and East Anatolia

A high morphological specialization is noted for vipers from the isolated populations of the Otlubekli Daglari Ridge, Zekeriya Village, Ardahan pass, Mt. Ilgar-Dag (Turkey), Javakheti Plateau (Armenia, Georgia). New forms of shield-head vipers are described from the Turkish Lesser Caucasus and east Turkey: Pelias sakoi sp. nov. (Otlubekli Daglari Ridge), Pelias darevskii uzumorum ssp. nov. (Southern limestone part of the Yalnizcam Daglari Ridge), Pelias darevskii kumlutasi ssp. nov. (Northern volcanic part of the Yalnizcam Daglari Ridge). Keys to identification of species and subspecies of the Pelias darevskii-olguni complex are given, and ecological differences of its representatives are discussed. The cluster and discriminant analyses on morphological features allow us to consider these vipers as separate taxa, whereas the molecular analysis on cytb does not give significant differences for most populations. This result should not be perceived unambiguously in favor of conspecificity of the considered populations. In addition to the morphological differences of the vipers, we consider such ecological differences as biotope preference, age and size of the puberty, the history of landscapes and habitats, mezoclimatic habitat characteristics, etc. Given the southern location of the Otlubekli Daglari Ridge and no signs of glaciation there, the vipers from the vicinity of Erzincan should be regarded as an ancient relic isolated form. The climate of this area has contributed to the conservation of ancient Eastern Mediterranean relics both among plants and animals.

A new species of the genus Cixius (Hemiptera: Fulgoroidea: Cixiidae) from Krasnodar Territory.

Cixius (Orinocixius) lermontovi sp. nov. is described from Black see coast of Krasnodar Territory of Russia. This is 6th species of the genus Cixius Latreille recorded from this region so far and 27th species for the fauna of Russia. The new species differs from all other species of the subgenus Orinocixius by small size (body length with wings) – 3.0 mm. C. (O.) lermontovi sp. nov. is closely related to C. (O.) cambricus China, 1935 and C. (O.) carniolicus Wagner, 1939 according to arrangement and size of phallotheca teeth and length of male anal tube, but well distinguished by body size and dark brown coloration of the head, pro-, and mesonotum. C. (O.) lermontovi sp. nov. is characterized by wide pygofer, with hind margins strongly convex, male anal tube 4 times as long as wide medially, phallotheca with two lateral areas of weak sclerotization, denticles ventrally and two lobe-shaped combs dorsally – left comb deeply concave proximally and right comb convex, 3 movable teeth are near to the base of the distal segment of penis – upper tooth large, directed upwards and lower tooth small, directed downwards on left side, one large tooth directed upwards on the right side, lower margin of phallotheca with two strong teeth proximally.

Influence of the environmental factors on species diversity and quantitative development of zoobenthos  in the Neva Bay.

Hydrochemical characteristics, primary production of plankton, taxonomic composition, species richness, species diversity and quantitative characteristics of the benthic fauna of the Neva Bay had been collected and analyzed at the end of July and the very beginning of August 2003–2012 by the method stepwise regression, calculated equations with a free constant. Effects of biotic and abiotic factors on the structural and functional characteristics of benthic communities in the Neva Bay were evaluated using multiregression analysis. Research period had been accompanied by revival of industry of Saint-Petersburg, construction of ports, active navigation, development of Sea facade and completion of the construction of the St. Petersburg Flood Prevention Facility Complex and a large-scale hydrotechnical works: building of a Marine Multifunctional Reloading Complex (MMRC) “Bronka” and approach fairway to it. Results of statistical analysis showed that the number of species and species diversity of bottom animals in the Neva Bay declined with increased primary production and chlorophyll a concentration. Analysis of the factors influencing the values of biomass of benthic animal communities shows that these characteristics increased with growing chlorophyll concentration. During the anthropogenic stress of 2006–2007, the existing links between the structural characteristics of the zoobenthos and the functional biotic characteristics of the Neva Bay were completely destroyed. Restoration period 2008–2012 was accompanied by an increase in the species richness and species diversity of zoobenthos to the level observed before anthropogenic stress.

Zooplankton of mountain and lowland waterbodies of Northwestern India

In 2013–2015, 9 waterbodies situated in mountain and lowland regions of Northwestern India were studied. 46 species of zooplankton organisms were revealed, among them 18 Rotifera species, 20 Cladocera, 8 Copepoda, and 1 species of Anostraca. For this part of India, it was the first time detected 8 Rotifera species, 5 Cladocera, and 2 Copepoda. Cosmopolites and Paleotropic species were registered in all waterbodies studied in the Himalayans and lowland India. Palearctic and Holarctic species — in the Himalayans only. Tropic species were found in lowland India only. Species number and zooplankton species diversity index were low. Zooplankton density was relatively high in one from four mountain lakes and in all lowland waterbodies (99–487 thousands ind./m3). Zooplankton biomass was low (0.04–8.00 g/m3) in both mountain and lowland lakes, in exception two lowland lakes with wind onset and overwintering place for large birds. Rotifera dominated by biomass only in mountain region. Cladocera predominated in zooplankton density and biomass in majority of studied waterbodies. This group was represented by coastal and macrophyte forms which are usual for shallow waterbodies. Copepoda were abundant in five studied waterbodies and basically were represented by Cyclopoida. Calanoida group (Diaptomidae) was revealed in only one lowland lake located in a desert. Macrofiltrators represented the main part of zooplankton trophic structure. Microphages and predators subdominated in zooplankton communities.




© Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Last modified: June 25, 2018