, Volume 89, Issue 5, pp 201-213

Review of the reticulated python (Python reticulatus Schneider, 1801) with the description of new subspecies from Indonesia

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The geographically widespread Python reticulatus, the world's longest snake, has been largely neglected by taxonomists. Dwarfed individuals from Tanahjampea Island, Indonesia, differ strikingly in morphology. Phylogenetic relationships were analyzed using a 345-bp fragment of the cytochrome b gene for 12 specimens from different populations. Both genetic differences and morphological characters distinctly revealed two taxonomic subunits. The island populations of Tanahjampea and Selayar form two monophyletic lineages, supported by high bootstrap values, with distinct differences in color pattern and scalation. We consider these forms to represent two new subspecies. The Tanahjampea form is genetically related to populations of the Sunda Islands and mainland Southeast Asia, whereas the Selayar form is related to populations of Southwest Sulawesi. We conclude that, due to strong directional surface currents in this region, gene flow between Tanahjampea and Selayar is prevented. Sea-level changes during the Pleistocene probably contributed to the isolation of the two taxa described. Aspects of ecology and conservation status are briefly discussed. Electronic supplementary material to this paper can be obtained by using the Springer LINK server located at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00114-002-0320-4.

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