Morphology and phylogenetic relationships of the Cyprus racer, Hierophis cypriensis, and the systematic status of Coluber gemonensis gyarosensis Mertens (Reptilia : Squamata : Colubrinae)

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2004
Authors:Utiger, U., Schatti, B.
Journal:Revue Suisse de ZoologieRevue Suisse de Zoologie
Date Published:MAR
Accession Number:ISI:000220577700016
Keywords:(coi, 12s rrna), coluber gemonensis gyarosensis, Cyprus, hierophis cypriensis, hierophis viridiflavus, morphology, mtDNA, phylogeny, serpentes, zoogeography

External morphology, skull bones, and hemipenis features of Hierophis cypriensis (Schatti) were examined and new lowland findings are reported. Morphological and molecular data confirm sister species status of the Cyprus racer vis-a-vis the western Mediterranean racers H. gemonensis (Laurenti) and H. viridiflavus (Lacepede). Apart from the Cyclades viper, Macrovipera schweizeri (Werner), H. cypriensis is the only endemic Mediterranean insular snake species. Coluber gemonensis gyarosensis Mertens from Gyaros Island (Cyclades) is a junior synonym of H. viridiflavus. This Aegean population, highly isolated from the continuous range of the species, was most probably introduced by human activity in historical times. Molecular data suggest validity of H. viridiflavus carbonarius (Bonaparte) for melanotic populations of the European whip snake including the Gyaros racer.

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