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Title: Taxonomic revision of the genus Xenopholis Peters, 1869 (Serpentes: Dipsadidae): Integrating morphology with ecological niche
Authors: Gomes, Daniel Faustino
Passos, Paulo
Faurby, Søren
Antonelli, Alexandre
Murta-Fonseca, Roberta Azeredo
Azevedo, Josué A.R.
Keywords: controlled study
ecological niche
leaf litter
male genital system
morphological trait
quantitative analysis
species complex
Issue Date: 2020
metadata.dc.publisher.journal: PLoS ONE
metadata.dc.relation.ispartof: Volume 15
Abstract: A reliable identification and delimitation of species is an essential pre-requisite for many fields of science and conservation. The Neotropical herpetofauna is the world's most diverse, including many taxa of uncertain or debated taxonomy. Here we tackle one such species complex, by evaluating the taxonomic status of species currently allocated in the snake genus Xenopholis (X. scalaris, X. undulatus, and X. werdingorum). We base our conclusions on concordance between quantitative (meristic and morphometric) and qualitative (color pattern, hemipenes and skull features) analyses of morphological characters, in combination with ecological niche modeling. We recognize all three taxa as valid species and improve their respective diagnosis, including new data on color in life, pholidosis, bony morphology, and male genitalia. We find low overlap among the niches of each species, corroborating the independent source of phenotypic evidence. Even though all three species occur in the leaf litter of distinct forested habitats, Xenopholis undulatus is found in the elevated areas of the Brazilian Shield (Caatinga, Cerrado and Chaco), whereas X. scalaris occurs in the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests, and X. werdingorum in the Chiquitanos forest and Pantanal wetlands. We discuss the disjunct distribution between Amazonian and Atlantic Forest snake species in the light of available natural history and ecological aspects. This study shows the advantages of combining multiple data sources for reliable identification and circumscription of ecologically similar species. © 2020 Gomes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
metadata.dc.identifier.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243210
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