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

B.S. Tuniyev, A. Avcı, Ç. Ilgaz, K. Olgun, T.V. Petrova, S.Yu. Bodrov, P. Geniez and A. Teynié

Proceedings of the Zoological Institute RAS, 2018, 322(1): 3–44  ·  https://doi.org/10.31610/trudyzin/2018.322.1.3

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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.

Key words

new species – Pelias sakoi, new subspecies – Pelias darevskii kumlutasi, Pelias darevskii uzumorum, Pelias, Turkey, vipers

Submitted November 12, 2017  ·  Accepted February 8, 2018  ·  Published March 23, 2018


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