A new Natrix species?

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A new Natrix species?

Postby Frédéric Seyffarth » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:46 pm

Of possible interest:

Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species

Here is a link:

http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-07847-9
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:36 pm

Who dares to compare with the Triturus cristatus complex and the Speleomantes ambrosii-italicus delimitation...?
;)
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed Aug 09, 2017 9:58 am

No one? Really? Too much of a shock? ;)
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:05 am

It seems a lot of the UK media claim that this adds an additional snake species to the UK fauna. While a few Natrix natrix s.s. introduced populations exist, I have no idea why they would claim that, as the sole UK species should be Natrix helvetica.
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Ilian Velikov » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:01 am

I'm very glad to have helped no matter how little my contribution was but unfortunately for the non-professionals like me it is rather hard to understand what the results are of the study. Would be great if someone could summerize it in layman terms...
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Guillaume Gomard » Wed Aug 09, 2017 11:17 am

Jeroen Speybroeck wrote:It seems a lot of the UK media claim that this adds an additional snake species to the UK fauna. While a few Natrix natrix s.s. introduced populations exist, I have no idea why they would claim that, as the sole UK species should be Natrix helvetica.


Exactly. This confusing interpretation of the paper was discussed yesterday by the ARC:

"Some UK media reports about this research have been rather confused. To clarify, the research does not suggest there is a fourth native species of snake in the UK. Rather, the research assigns a new classification to our native grass snake, as noted above.

Of course, the research also raises some interesting wider points about European snake conservation and taxonomy, and we will write in more depth about these findings in due course."
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:03 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:I'm very glad to have helped no matter how little my contribution was but unfortunately for the non-professionals like me it is rather hard to understand what the results are of the study. Would be great if someone could summerize it in layman terms...


I'll try, but I have still to dig into all details myself (some of which are also to me like reading Chinese).

They looked at two contact zones between subgroups that already came in sight in Kindler et al. (2013). When dealing with subspecies, you would normally see a gradual transition (in genes and, more often than not, morphology) with a large transition zone of mixing. In this case, however, the transition is sharp (see left side in Fig. 5). This indicates that not a lot of individuals and genes are being exchanged across that border = not interbreeding an awful lot. So, the variation is not clinal but discrete. This case shows less hybridisation than the crested newts in the Balkans, which have been accepted as species for quite some time now.

I must say I was very surprised about this, but I accept it. Minor remarks are that I don't understand why the subspecies gotlandica, schweizeri and corsa are still maintained (whereas they were questioned in 2013) and that I would like to know what's going on at the contact areas around NE Netherlands and NE Italy / Slovenia.
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Frédéric Seyffarth » Wed Aug 09, 2017 1:11 pm

I must say I was very surprised about this, but I accept it. Minor remarks are that I don't understand why the subspecies gotlandica, schweizeri and corsa are still maintained (whereas they were questioned in 2013) and that I would like to know what's going on at the contact areas around NE Netherlands and NE Italy / Slovenia.
+1 ;)
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Ilian Velikov » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:47 pm

Thanks, Jeroen! Well, I'm not really knowledgeable enough to give opinion but from what you wrote it seems like a "new" species makes sense.
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Re: A new Natrix species?

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:50 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:I'm not really knowledgeable enough

It's all about pretending. ;)
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