Species delimitation and systematics of the green pythons (Morelia viridis complex) of melanesia and Australia

Daniel J. D. Natusch*, Damien Esquerré, Jessica A. Lyons, Amir Hamidy, Alan R. Lemmon, Emily Moriarty Lemmon, Awal Riyanto, J. Scott Keogh, Stephen Donnellan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Molecular data sets and the increasing use of integrative systematics is revealing cryptic diversity in a range of taxa – particularly in remote and poorly sampled landscapes like the island of New Guinea. Green pythons (Morelia viridis complex) are one of the most conspicuous elements of this island's fauna, with large numbers taken from the wild to supply international demand for exotic pets. We test hypotheses about species boundaries in green pythons from across New Guinea and Australia with mitochondrial genomes, 389 nuclear exons, and comprehensive assessment of morphological variation. Strong genetic structuring of green python populations and species delimitation methods confirm the presence of two species, broadly occurring north and south of New Guinea's central mountains. Our data also support three subspecies within the northern species. Subtle but consistent morphological divergence among the putative taxa is concordant with patterns of molecular divergence. Our extensive sampling identifies several zones of hitherto unknown biogeographical significance on the island of New Guinea. We revise the taxonomy of the group, discuss the relevance of our findings in the context of Papuan biogeography and the implications of our systematic changes for the conservation management of these taxa.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106640
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
    Volume142
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

    Keywords

    • CITES
    • Chondropython
    • New Guinea
    • Biogeography
    • Cryptic diversity
    • Papua
    • Indonesia

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Species delimitation and systematics of the green pythons (Morelia viridis complex) of melanesia and Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this