Project

Microevolutionary processes in isolated populations of terrestrial vertebrates with an example on squamate reptiles

Goal: Knowledge on distribution, structure and history of origin of isolated animal populations has an important value for solution of fundamental problems of zoogeography, systematics, phylogeny and evolution theory as well as for biodiversity conservation. Kazakhstan is a key area to study taxonomy, zoogeography and origin of many of squamate taxa. Complex Pliocene-Pleistocene history of relief and climate and accordingly current great landscape diversity of Kazakhstan are the reasons of presence of a number of isolated herp populations here both poor studied and still unknown. Some populations belong to rare, locally distributed and narrow endemic forms included to the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan. In the framework of present project a set of fieldworks directed to detection and comprehensive investigation of the isolated populations will be carry out within a wide area of South Altay, Junggarian Alatau and Tien-Shan mountains divided with Zaissan Lake, Alakol Lake and Ily River intermountain depressions (Eastern and Southeastern Kazakhstan). The main methods for determination of isolated populations will be comparative morphology and molecular genetics. GIS and Remote Sensing Data will be used for modeling of their ecological niches.

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Project log

Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a research item
Phenotypic traits are usually correlated with the environment where organism occurs. In this study, the distribution of Eremias velox in the eastern periphery of its range was specified, and its morphological variation was analyzed. Linear dimensions, pholidosis, coloration and pattern features were compared among 135 specimens from nine populations inhabiting the Balkhash, Ili and Alakol basins, Junggar and Turpan depressions in the territory of Southeast Kazakhstan and Xinjiang, Northwest China. The populations from the Junggar Depression (Kuytun, Shihezi and Urumqi) were characterized by higher mean values of linear characters, the number of scales across the middle of the body and gular, and were similar in the dominant coloration patterns. Small size, dark coloration and almost complete dominance of the striped-type coloration pattern among the specimens from the Alakol Lake islands seem to have an adaptive significance associated with the isolation of the population and type of their habitats. The subspecies Eremias velox roborowskii (endemic to the Turpan Depression) is elevated to species level, as supported by morphological divergence congruent with molecular and geographical data, including its peculiar type of coloration pattern, significantly lower amount of femoral pores and a higher percentage of specimens with one enlarged preanal scale (72.7%). These results together confirm a high degree of variability in morphology for E. veloх in the eastern periphery of its range, reflecting a complex orography and the existence of multiple geographical barriers in this territory.
Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a research item
Pholidosis of the upper eyelid-visor and external surface of the forelimbs have been studied in 59 specimens of Alpine Lidless Skink, Asymblepharus alaicus from Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve (Western Tien-Shan Mountains, Southern Kazakhstan). The upper eyelid-visor in most of the lizards examined consisted of minimal number (1-2) of the large shields. The number of enlarged shields on the external surface of the forelimbs in most of the specimens was 3-4. High degree of asymmetrical variations for both the features analyzed has been registered.
Jinlong Liu
added a research item
Background. The use of GIS in zoology gives an opportunity for wide and extended study of isolated populations existing within complex terrain areas. We attempted GIS-based comparative analysis of the distribution and habitat conditions for two lizard’s species of the genus Eremias. The species analyzed inhabit the intermountain depressions of Tien-Shan. Material and methods. The ground data on distribution of the “Ily form” of Eremias arguta and the Tien-Shan Racerunner Eremias stummeri were collected during numerous field surveys. In addition, we used museum collections and previously published data to collect as much as possible ground observations of both species. The model was developed in ESRI ArcGIS software using the original methodology based on the use of abiotic variables, taken from Digital Elevation Model, BIOCLIM, WORLDCLIM, CLIMOND and Global-PET datasets. Results. The model revealed the different sets of the key variables for each species analyzed, in spite of the close resemblance of their habitats. The list of the key variables for E. arguta comprised precipitation, solar radiation of cold season and relative post meridiem air humidity. Among the key variables of E. stummeri’s model, there were the sets of temperature and solar radiation, the orographic variables and the ante meridiem relative humidity. Such a diversification indicated to different zoogeographical affiliation of studied species and attributed different ecological preferences of each species. E. arguta had rather flatland prehistory, whereas E. stummeri demonstrated undoubtedly the mountain origin. Conclusions. From the theoretical point of view, the prospects of GIS-based ecological modeling were demonstrated as a tool to determine the ecosystem and zoogeographical affiliations of living species. The importance of the extended set of variables implementation along with basic geomorphological parameters is confirmed as a major prerequisite of the ecological modeling of mountain species niches.
Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a research item
We studied a ventral coloration of 83 adult specimens of Zootoca vivipara (31 males, L= 46.0-59.1 mm and 52 females, L = 48.0-69.3 mm) from the Markakol Depression (South Altai Mountains, Eastern Kazakhstan). The morphological description using the color scale of Bondartzev (1954) has revealed a high percent of the females with bright belly coloration and significant variation in male belly coloration during and after of breeding season. Two-thirds of the females (77%) had the belly colored with yellow, orange or even red that visibly differed from the traditionally mentioned in literature and regarded as a typical feature of the males. Since no correlation of that phenomenon with lizard size, activity season or elevation of habitats was found, we suspect to consider it as a character of the local mountain populations of the species.
Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a research item
During the survey on the amphibians and reptiles diversity in Jinhe County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in June 2013, over twenty specimens of the racerunners were captured at the town of Bujiahu. Among them, four were identified as variegated racerunner, Eremisa vermiculata Blanford, 1875, which is the first record in the north of the Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. This discovery enriches our understanding of the distribution data of the variegated racerunner, and will facilitate the investigation of its phylogeographical pattern and testing the barrier effect of the Tianshan Mountains to gene flow.
Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a research item
The whole mitochondrial genome was determined from a viviparous racerunner, Eremias stummeri, which was collected from southeast Kazakhstan. The mitogenome sequence was 19 602 bp in size, containing 13 protein-coding genes, 22 tRNA genes, 2 rRNA genes and a control region, which is similar to the typical mtDNA of vertebrates. Mitochondrial genomes analyses using maximum parsimony and Bayesian analyses yielded identical phylogenetic trees, indicating a close phylogenetic affinity of the sampled taxa in genus Eremias. Monophyly of both Eremias and its viviparous group is recovered. The complete mitogenome sequence of E. stummeri provides fundamental data for resolving phylogeneitc and genetic problems related to Eremias viviparity.
Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a research item
The Stepper-Runner E. arguta has a wide range in Eurasia. The species has a high level of variation in external morphology including a coloration pattern. A presence of white (light) ocelli with black (dark) outline is typical the most types of species coloration pattern. In 2006–2007, we found the lizards with lateral color ocelli in Konyrolen Valley (Ily River Basin) and in Tekes Valley (southeast of Kazakhstan). The ocelli in the adult males varied in color from blue to yellowish-green depending upon the lizard sexual activity. The adult females had the white ocelli and the lateral ocelli of young females as well as background ventral tail and femur coloration were yellowish. The lizards had shorter snout-vent length (SVL) comparably with the specimens from other populations of Kazakhstan (maximal SVL 62, 3 and 58.6 mm for males and females accordingly) and the tail of equivalent or slightly less lenght than the body. The males and females differed in relative length of tail and head (higher means for the males) as well as in some characters of scalation. The typical habitats of the unusual stepper-runners in Konirolen Valley were the piedmonts at 1000-1500 m asl with clay soil, crushed stones and rare xerophilic plants as Caragana sp., Krasсheninnikovia ceratoides, Atraphaxis сompacta, A. frutescens, Nanophyton erinaceum and Artemisia heptapotamica. In the surroundings of the Tekess Reservour the lizards were found at higher altitude (1800 m a.s.l.) along the clay plain with domination of Artemisia sp. and rare plants of Stipa sp.
Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a research item
New finds of the lizards of Eremias multiocellata complex became known for extreme southeast of Kazakhstan. In 2006 – 2007 we recorded the lizards in the mountain valleys of Kegen and Tekes Rivers crossing an intermountain depression located between Ketmen' and Terskey-Alatau ranges at altitude 1850 – 1950 m a.s.l. Morphological analysis revealed the reliable differences of the specimens collected from other species of multiocellata complex inhabited the close areas — E. stummeri from Issyk-Kul' Depression and E. kokshaaliensis from Sary-Dzhaz River Basin of Kyrgyzstan. Morphological peculiarity of the populations recorded may be caused by their isolative position in extreme southeast of Kazakhstan and needs future elucida-tion.
Tatjana Dujsebayeva
added a project goal
Knowledge on distribution, structure and history of origin of isolated animal populations has an important value for solution of fundamental problems of zoogeography, systematics, phylogeny and evolution theory as well as for biodiversity conservation. Kazakhstan is a key area to study taxonomy, zoogeography and origin of many of squamate taxa. Complex Pliocene-Pleistocene history of relief and climate and accordingly current great landscape diversity of Kazakhstan are the reasons of presence of a number of isolated herp populations here both poor studied and still unknown. Some populations belong to rare, locally distributed and narrow endemic forms included to the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan. In the framework of present project a set of fieldworks directed to detection and comprehensive investigation of the isolated populations will be carry out within a wide area of South Altay, Junggarian Alatau and Tien-Shan mountains divided with Zaissan Lake, Alakol Lake and Ily River intermountain depressions (Eastern and Southeastern Kazakhstan). The main methods for determination of isolated populations will be comparative morphology and molecular genetics. GIS and Remote Sensing Data will be used for modeling of their ecological niches.