An integrative taxonomic approach to determining species boundaries in Asian pitvipers.


Malhotra, Anita

School of Natural Sciences

Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, U.K.


While substantial advances have been made in recent years in elucidating the phylogeny and systematics of pitvipers, phylogenies of the Asian representatives are still predominantly based on mitochondrial loci, and many species have been described on the basis of a very limited geographic sampling and an emphasis on colour pattern differences. This not only leaves their validity open to question but also fails to meet the needs of medical and conservation practitioners for whom the distribution of species is vital information. In this talk I will describe the combined analysis of a geographically comprehensive morphological and molecular data collected over a 30-year period in one of the most wide-ranging and iconic pitviper groups, the white-lipped pitviper (Trimeresurus albolabris) complex, showing how a combination of these data is far more valuable than one data type alone. However, whether to treat resulting units as full species or subspecies is still a matter of interpretation and I will use this talk as an opportunity to seek the views of the attendees.