Conservation of threatened iconic marine iguanas improved by a new taxonomy
A team of European and Latin American scientists from the TU Braunschweig in Germany has discovered five previously not listed subspecies of the marine iguanas. Among them is the Amblyrhynchus cristatus godzilla, which was named after the fictional saurian monster Godzilla.
The researchers now have revised the taxonomy of this emblematic species on the Galapagos and distinguished 11 distinct taxa of marine iguanas, classified as subspecies. The new taxonomy permits a better protection of the marine iguanas. The research results were recently published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
“Bad taxonomy can kill” becomes a major theme for scientists and conservationists with respect to threatened species. It means the loss of genetic diversity of a species by unknown and non-classified differences at the level of populations within one species.
“We were really surprised to see that world’s leading conservation organizations, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), relied on a completely outdated taxonomy for such a unique and threatened species as the marine iguana” explained Steinfartz.
In a study, published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the researchers now have revised the taxonomy of this emblematic species. Based on an intensive study of genomic and morphological characters, the scientists now distinguish 11 distinct taxa of marine iguanas, classified as subspecies. Five of these subspecies are newly discovered and described in their study.
Dr. Aurelien Miralles, the leading scientist of this study from the Natural History Museum in Paris (France) states: “It was astonishing that upon closer inspection, most of the populations from different islands had significant differences in morphology and coloration when compared to their neighbors on other islands.” He adds: “Certainly Charles Darwin would have surely held these lizards in higher regard, if he had known how well their divergence matches the expectations of evolutionary theory.”
The most remarkable of the newly discovered taxa is the cryptic and highly threatened subspecies found only in the northeast of the oldest island of the archipelago, San Cristóbal. For this outstanding population, the scientists have dubbed this subspecies “the Godzilla marine iguana”(Amblyrhynchus cristatus godzilla), in honor of the fictional saurian monster Godzilla, which was in turn originally inspired by marine iguanas. As a species, marine iguanas are threatened.
Many island populations are endangered by predation of feral animals, marine pollution and encroachment of urban developments, such as the building of new hotel complexes at the shore of the island of San Cristóbal.
The new system of subspecies outlined by this study will serve as a basis for conservation management units, which will enable managers to fully safeguard vital genetic diversity of distinct populations, which should ultimately aid the long-term survival of these unique creatures. Steinfartz sums up: “We hope that the new taxonomy will serve as a better protection of this unique species.”
Miralles Aurélien, MacLeod Amy, Rodríguez Ariel, Ibáñez Alejandro, Jiménez-Uzcategui Gustavo , Quezada Galo, Vences Miguel, Steinfartz Sebastian. Shedding light on the Imps of Darkness: An integrative taxonomic revision of the Galapagos marine Iguanas (genus Amblyrhynchus).
Dr. Sebastian Steinfartz
Technische Universität Braunschweig
Division of Evolutionary Biology
38106 Braunschweig, Germany
Phone: +49 531 391-2393
Stephan Nachtigall | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex
New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.06.2018 | Life Sciences