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Kukri snakes Oligodon Fitzinger, 1826 of the Western Palearctic with the resurrection of Contia transcaspica Nikolsky, 1902 (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae)

Lee, JL and Yushchenko, PV and Milto, KD and Rajabizadeh, M and Pouyani, ER and Jablonski, D and Masroor, R and Karunarathna, S and Mallik, AK and Dsouza, P and Orlov, N and Nazarov, R and Poyarkov, NA (2023) Kukri snakes Oligodon Fitzinger, 1826 of the Western Palearctic with the resurrection of Contia transcaspica Nikolsky, 1902 (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). In: PeerJ, 11 .

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.7717/PEERJ.15185


westernmost limits of their distribution in Middle and Southwest Asia (Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan), and the Palearctic portions of Pakistan. In this article, we review the systematics and distribution of the two species native to this region, Oligodon arnensis (Shaw, 1802) and Oligodon taeniolatus (Jerdon, 1853) based on an integrative approach combining morphological, molecular, and species distribution modeling (SDM) data. Phylogenetic analyses recover O. taeniolatus populations from Iran and Turkmenistan in a clade with the O. arnensis species complex, rendering the former species paraphyletic relative to O. taeniolatus sensu stricto on the Indian subcontinent. To correct this, we resurrect the name Contia transcaspica Nikolsky, 1902 from the synonymy of O. taeniolatus and assign it to populations in Middle-Southwest Asia. So far, Oligodon transcaspicus comb. et stat. nov. is known only from the Köpet-Dag Mountain Range of northeast Iran and southern Turkmenistan, but SDM mapping suggests it may have a wider range. Genetic samples of O. “arnensis” from northern Pakistan are nested in a clade sister to the recently described Oligodon churahensis Mirza, Bhardwaj & Patel, 2021, and are phylogenetically separate from O. arnensis sensu stricto in south India and Sri Lanka. Based on morphological similarity, the Afghanistan and Pakistan populations are assigned to Oligodon russelius (Daudin, 1803) and we synonymize O. churahensis with this species. Our investigation leads us to remove O. taeniolatus from the snake fauna of Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan, with the consequence that only Oligodon transcaspicus comb. et stat. nov. and O. russelius are present in these countries. Additional studies are needed to resolve the taxonomy of the O. taeniolatus and O. arnensis species complexes on the Indian subcontinent, and an updated key for both groups is provided.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: PeerJ
Publisher: PeerJ Inc.
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the Author.
Keywords: Indian subcontinent; Iran; Köpet-Dag Mountain Range; Middle Asia; mtDNA; Oligodon taeniolatus; Oligodon transcaspicus; species distribution modeling; Taxonomy; Turkmenistan.
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2023 11:07
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2023 11:07
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/82534

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