Shai Meiri

Shai Meiri
Tel Aviv University | TAU · School of Zoology & the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History

Professor

About

276
Publications
136,094
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
10,647
Citations
Introduction
I am working on the biogeography and evolution of reptiles - and sometimes other vertebrates. If you are interested in my papers best method is to contact me at uncshai@tauex.tau.ac.il or to go to my webpage at http://shaimeirilab.weebly.com/. I will respond to requests on Reaserachgate, but it will take longer...
Additional affiliations
October 2020 - January 2021
Tel Aviv University
Position
  • Professor
Description
  • I do what I am told and don't shut my mouth even when I should
Education
October 1999 - January 2005
Tel Aviv University
Field of study
  • Zoology
October 1997 - September 1999
Tel Aviv University
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (276)
Article
Full-text available
Viviparity has evolved more times in squamates than in any other vertebrate group; therefore, squamates offer an excellent model system in which to study the patterns, drivers and implications of reproductive mode evolution. Based on current species distributions, we examined three selective forces hypothesized to drive the evolution of squamate vi...
Article
Full-text available
The Red List of Threatened Species, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is a crucial tool for conservation decision-making. However, despite substantial effort, numerous species remain unassessed or have insufficient data available to be assigned a Red List extinction risk category. Moreover, the Red Listing proc...
Article
Many ectotherms are at risk from climate change as temperatures are increasingly exceeding their thermal limits. Many evaluations of the vulnerability of ectotherms to climate change have relied on statistical metrics derived from coarse‐scale climatic data, which may result in misleading predictions. By applying an integrative approach, we investi...
Article
Full-text available
Limb‐reduced squamates are a convenient model system to investigate macroevolutionary trends in morphology. Here, we provide morphological, ecological and literature data on all known species of limb‐reduced skinks (Scincidae) and their relatives, representing one of the most diverse and widely distributed groups of limb‐reduced squamates. Global....
Article
Full-text available
Comprehensive assessments of species’ extinction risks have documented the extinction crisis and underpinned strategies for reducing those risks. Global assessments reveal that, among tetrapods, 40.7% of amphibians, 25.4% of mammals and 13.6% of birds are threatened with extinction. Because global assessments have been lacking, reptiles have been o...
Article
Full-text available
Comprehensive assessments of species’ extinction risks have documented the extinction crisis and underpinned strategies for reducing those risks. Global assessments reveal that, among tetrapods, 40.7% of amphibians, 25.4% of mammals and 13.6% of birds are threatened with extinction. Because global assessments have been lacking, reptiles have been o...
Article
Full-text available
The Late Quaternary witnessed a dramatic wave of large mammal extinctions, that are usually attributed to either human hunting or climatic change. We hypothesized that the large mammals that survived the extinctions might have been endowed with larger brain sizes than their relatives, which could have conferred enhanced behavioral plasticity and th...
Article
Full-text available
Many animals have strict diel activity patterns, with unique adaptations for either diurnal or nocturnal activity. Diel activity is phylogenetically conserved, yet evolutionary shifts in diel activity occur and lead to important changes in an organism's morphology, physiology, and behaviour. We use phylogenetic comparative methods to examine the ev...
Article
We examined the taxonomy of the minute desert geckos of the Tropiocolotes nattereri species complex using the largest morphological sampling, and the first molecular assessment of intraspecific diversity within this complex. We examined variation in mitochondrial and nuclear markers (12S, ND2, c-mos and MC1R) of 30 samples and analyzed the external...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: A decline in body size has been proposed as a universal response to global warming , but this is often questioned. We describe and characterize recent morphological changes in the avifauna of Israel as a whole and test several hypotheses regarding their cause. Location: Israel. Time period: 1950-2020. Major taxa studied: Aves. Methods: We...
Article
Full-text available
The Living Planet Report1, which has been published biannually since 1998, is key for understanding trends in wildlife populations and promoting sound conservation. Leung et al. 2020 recently disagreed with the conclusions of the Living Planet Report and found that the overall pattern of population declines stems from very few populations (extreme...
Article
Full-text available
Progress in genome sequencing now enables the large-scale generation of reference genomes. Various international initiatives aim to generate reference genomes representing global biodiversity. These genomes provide unique insights into genomic diversity and architecture, thereby enabling comprehensive analyses of population and functional genomics,...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Red List of Threatened Species, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is a crucial tool for conservation decision making. However, despite substantial effort, numerous species remain unassessed, or have insufficient data available to be assigned a Red List threat category. Moreover, the Red Listing process is s...
Article
Microscale differences in the habitats organisms occupy can influence selection regimes and promote intraspecific variation of traits. Temperature-dependent traits can be locally adapted to climatic conditions or be highly conserved and insensitive to directional selection under all but the most extreme regimes, and thus be similar across populatio...
Article
Multiple large-bodied species went extinct during the Pleistocene. Changing climates and/or human hunting are the main hypotheses used to explain these extinctions. We studied the causes of Pleistocene extinctions in the Southern Levant, and their subsequent effect on local hominin food spectra, by examining faunal remains in archaeological sites a...
Article
Full-text available
Aim In the absence of topographic barriers to dispersal, spatial boundaries of species are largely governed by the environmental regimes they occupy. Flying lizards (Agamidae: Draco) from peninsular India have surmounted prominent geographic barriers, but their northern distribution abruptly ends at the ‘Goa gap’, a latitudinal boundary separating...
Article
Full-text available
Amniote vertebrates share a suite of extra-embryonic membranes that distinguish them from anamniotes. Other than that, however, their reproductive characteristics could not be more different. They differ in basic ectothermic vs endothermic physiology, in that two clades evolved powered flight, and one clade evolved a protective shell. In terms of r...
Article
Full-text available
To meet the ambitious objectives of biodiversity and climate conventions, the international community requires clarity on how these objectives can be operationalized spatially and how multiple targets can be pursued concurrently. To support goal setting and the implementation of international strategies and action plans, spatial guidance is needed...
Article
Full-text available
Biddick & Burns (2021) proposed a null/neutral model that reproduces the island rule as a product of random drift. We agree that it is unnecessary to assume adaptive processes driving island dwarfing or gigantism, but several flaws make their approach unrealistic and thus unsuitable as a stochastic model for evolutionary size changes.
Article
Geographic range size varies greatly across species. Climate, along with aspects of a species’ biology, may influence its spatial extent. We investigate intrinsic and extrinsic predictors of range size in Australian skinks. We predicted that larger body size, longer limbs, and larger clutch sizes would be associated with larger ranges, and that ran...
Article
Full-text available
Deciphering global trends in phylogenetic endemism is crucial for understanding broad-scale evolutionary patterns and the conservation of key elements of biodiversity. However, knowledge to date on global phylogenetic endemism and its determinants has been lacking. Here, we conduct the first global analysis of phylogenetic endemism patterns of land...
Article
The skink genus Lobulia is endemic to New Guinea, the largest and highest tropical island in the world. Lobulia and its related genera represent an important component of the montane herpetofauna of New Guinea, but it remains understudied and poorly known. We here provide the first, large-scale, systematic revision of Lobulia, using molecular phylo...
Article
Full-text available
Body size evolution on islands is widely studied and hotly debated. Gigantism and dwarfism are thought to evolve under strong natural selection, especially on small remote islands. We report a curious co-occurrence of both dwarf and giant lizards on the same small, remote island (Plakida): the largest Podarcis erhardii (Lacertidae) and smallest Med...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract To manage populations of threatened species according to the IUCN’s One Plan Approach, knowledge about both in situ and ex situ populations is required. To enhance the conservation of threatened skinks and to gain an overview which skink species are kept in zoos, and thus already have an ex situ conservation component, we analysed data fro...
Article
Aim Birds have recently undergone a major extinction event which apparently is ongoing. According to some estimates, humans have caused the extinction of up to 20% of the entire avian species diversity since the latter part of the Pleistocene. Few attempts, however, were made to determine how many extinctions are actually known, rather than project...
Article
Full-text available
Rensch's rule relates to a pattern whereby sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is more female-biased in small-sized species and more male-biased in large-sized ones. We collected literature and museum data on the body size of males and females belonging to 4,032 lizard species, as well as data on their reproductive modes and clutch sizes. We used phylogen...
Article
Aim: Identification of particular traits that predispose species to elevated extinction risk is an important component of proactive conservation. We capitalise on a recent strategic extinction risk assessment of all Australian squamate reptiles to identify intrinsic life history traits and extrinsic threats that correlate with extinction risk. We f...
Article
Populations of the same species occupying different microhabitats can either exhibit generalized traits across them or display intraspecific variability, adapting to each microhabitat in order to maximize performance. Intraspecific variability contributes to the generation of diversity, following selection and adaptation, and understanding such var...
Article
en Alopoglossus is a Neotropical lizard genus the taxonomy of which has extensively evolved over the past decade. Previous works suggest that many species still remain unnamed in this genus. Here, we expand the knowledge of Alopoglossus diversity in Amazonian lowlands. Molecular phylogenetic relationships, and species boundaries, were inferred base...
Article
Our knowledge of the conservation status of reptiles, the most diverse class of terrestrial vertebrates, has improved dramatically over the past decade, but still lags behind that of the other tetrapod groups. Here, we conduct the first comprehensive evaluation (~92% of the world's ~1714 described species) of the conservation 1 Joint senior authors...
Article
Full-text available
The Levant represents one of the most important reptile diversity hotspots and centers of endemism in the Western Palearctic. The region harbored numerous taxa in glacial refugia during the Pleistocene climatic oscillations. Due to the hostile arid conditions in the warmer periods they were not always able to spread or come into contact with popula...
Article
Aim The diversity of brood size across animal species exceeds the diversity of most other life‐history traits. In some environments, reproductive success increases with brood size, whereas in others it increases with smaller broods. The dominant hypothesis explaining such diversity predicts that selection on brood size varies along climatic gradien...
Article
Aim Climatic variation has long been regarded as a primary source of morphological variation. However, there is mixed support for the adherence of reptiles to ecogeographical hypotheses, such as Bergmann’s rule (body size decreases with temperature) and Allen’s rule (limb length increases with temperature). We quantified body and limb morphology am...
Article
Issue: Sexual size dimorphism is thought to vary in a predictable manner with overall body size, a pattern named “Rensch's rule”. The rule is thought to suggest different predictions for taxa with female- and male-biased dimorphism. This leaves taxa where both types of dimorphism are common in limbo. Rensch's rule is usually estimated using the red...
Article
Full-text available
Adaptations for efficient performance are expected to shape animal morphology based on selection for microhabitat use and ecological forces. The presence of competitor species is predicted to cause niches to contract and enhance trait divergence. Therefore, increased species richness is expected to lead to greater trait divergence, and to result in...
Article
Marshall et al. recently estimated population densities, range sizes, instant and cumulative total population sizes for Tyrannosaurus rex with narrow ranges of uncertainly. I revisit the assumptions that led them to these conclusions and show that many of these parameters are associated with much wider margins of error than they estimated. Biogeogr...
Article
Two species of Alopoglossus (A. angulatus and A. meloi) were recognized to occur in the Guiana Shield lowlands, northeastern Amazonia. A third group of populations forming a distinct genetic lineage related to Alopoglossus avilapiresae was recently documented in the region. The Guiana Shield lowlands area also encompasses the type locality of Alopo...
Article
The enigmatic snake genus Micrelaps has uncertain phylogenetic affinities. The type species of the genus, Micrelaps muelleri, inhabits the Southern Levant. Snakes inhabiting the Jordan River Valley just south of the Sea of Galilee have been described as a new species, Micrelaps tchernovi, based on their distinct colour patterns, despite M. muelleri...
Article
Full-text available
The digit ratio, an indicator of brain laterality, is the ratio of the second and fourth digits on the left (L24) or right foot (R24). Much of the research on the digit ratio and brain laterality focuses on primates, rather than other species such as reptiles. We tested whether the digit ratio in the gecko Ptyodactylus guttatus was associated with...
Article
Full-text available
The number of shrew species in Israel has been and still is the subject of debate. In this work we used for the first time a molecular marker, the cytochrome b gene, to investigate the number and identity of shrew species in Israel. Our molecular results confirmed the presence of four species: Crocidura leucodon , Crocidura suaveolens gueldenstaedt...
Article
Aim Clutch size is a key life‐history trait. In lizards, it ranges over two orders of magnitude. The global drivers of spatial and phylogenetic variation in clutch have been extensively studied in birds, but such tests in other organisms are lacking. To test the generality of latitudinal gradients in clutch size, and their putative drivers, we pres...
Article
Full-text available
Phylogenetic diversity measures are increasingly used in conservation planning to represent aspects of biodiversity beyond that captured by species richness. Here we develop two new metrics that combine phylogenetic diversity and the extent of human pressure across the spatial distribution of species-one metric valuing regions and another prioritis...
Article
Based on a comprehensive literature survey, we determined the sources of the terrestrial vertebrate species on Christmas Island, asking where they originated relative to Wallace’s Line (the southern end of the divide lies 1100 km to the east, where the Lombok Strait adjoins the eastern Indian Ocean). The two bats, Pipistrellus murrayi and Pteropus...
Article
We identified two snakes from Paphos district in south-western Cyprus as belonging to the secretive genus Rhynchocalamus. They represent the first record of these snakes in Cyprus. Morphological features and mitochondrial 16S DNA sequences suggest that these specimens belong to R. melanocephalus, a species widely distributed in the Eastern Mediterr...
Preprint
Full-text available
paragraph To meet the ambitious objectives of biodiversity and climate conventions, countries and the international community require clarity on how these objectives can be operationalized spatially, and multiple targets be pursued concurrently ¹ . To support governments and political conventions, spatial guidance is needed to identify which areas...
Article
Most species remain unknown to science and might go extinct before we recognize their existence. Although specimens belonging to many of these unknown taxa may already be housed in scientific collections, they can remain 'shelved' for years bearing the wrong name or without a formal name. We investigate factors underlying variation in time lag betw...
Article
1935 gecko species (and 224 subspecies) were known in December 2019 in seven families and 124 genera. These nearly 2000 species were described by ~950 individuals of whom more than 100 described more than 10 gecko species each. Most gecko species were discovered during the past 40 years. The primary type specimens of all currently recognized geckos...
Article
Full-text available
Based on a comprehensive literature survey, we determined the sources of the terrestrial vertebrate species on Christmas Island, asking where they originated relative to Wallace’s Line (the southern end of the divide lies 1100 km to the east, where the Lombok Strait adjoins the eastern Indian Ocean). The two bats, Pipistrellus murrayi and Pteropus...
Article
The aim was to determine how reptile populations respond to anthropogenic habitat modification and determine whether species traits and environmental factors influence such responses. Global. 1981–2018. Squamata. We compiled a database of 56 studies reporting how habitat modification affects reptile abundance and calculated standardized mean differ...
Article
Full-text available
Geckos are a hyper-diverse, ancient, and globally distributed group. They have diverged early from other squamates and thus can be expected to differ from them along multiple ecological, life history, and biogeographic axes. I review a wide range of gecko traits, comparing them to those of other lizard taxa, to identify the unique, and unifying, at...
Article
Insular animals are thought to be under weak predation pressure and increased intraspecific competition compared with those on the mainland. Thus, insular populations are predicted to evolve 'slow' life histories characterized by fewer and smaller clutches of larger eggs, a pattern called the 'island syndrome'. To test this pattern, we collected da...
Article
Full-text available
The ‘rate‐of‐living’ theory predicts that life expectancy is a negative function of the rates at which organisms metabolize. According to this theory, factors that accelerate metabolic rates, such as high body temperature and active foraging, lead to organismic ‘wear‐out’. This process reduces life span through an accumulation of biochemical errors...
Article
New Guinea, the world's largest and highest tropical island, has a rich but poorly known biota. Papuascincus is a genus of skinks endemic to New Guinea's mountain regions, comprising two wide-ranging species and two species known only from their type series. The phylogeny of the genus has never been examined and the relationships among its species...
Article
Full-text available
We present information on primary type specimens for 13,282 species and subspecies of reptiles compiled in the Reptile Database, that is, holotypes, neotypes, lectotypes, and syntypes. These represent 99.4% of all 13,361 currently recognized taxa (11,050 species and 2311 subspecies). Type specimens of 653 taxa (4.9%) are either lost or not located,...