ResearchPad - reptiles https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Jellyfish distribution in space and time predicts leatherback sea turtle hot spots in the Northwest Atlantic]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14580 Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) migrate to temperate Canadian Atlantic waters to feed on gelatinous zooplankton (‘jellyfish’) every summer. However, the spatio-temporal connection between predator foraging and prey-field dynamics has not been studied at the large scales over which these migratory animals occur. We use 8903 tows of groundfish survey jellyfish bycatch data between 2006–2017 to reveal spatial jellyfish hot spots, and matched these data to satellite-telemetry leatherback data over time and space. We found highly significant overlap of jellyfish and leatherback distribution on the Scotian Shelf (r = 0.89), moderately strong correlations of jellyfish and leatherback spatial hot spots in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (r = 0.59), and strong correlations in the Bay of Fundy (r = 0.74), which supports much lower jellyfish density. Over time, jellyfish bycatch data revealed a slight northward range shift in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, consistent with gradual warming of these waters. Two-stage generalized linear modelling corroborated that sea surface temperature, year, and region were significant predictors of jellyfish biomass, suggesting a climate signal on jellyfish distribution, which may shift leatherback critical feeding habitat over time. These findings are useful in predicting dynamic habitat use for endangered leatherback turtles, and can help to anticipate large-scale changes in their distribution in response to climate-related changes in prey availability.

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<![CDATA[The validity, reliability and minimal clinically important difference of the patient specific functional scale in snake envenomation]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823c4d5eed0c484638faf

Objective

Valid, reliable, and clinically relevant outcome measures are necessary in clinical studies of snake envenomation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the psychometric (validity and reliability) and clinimetric (minimal clinically important difference [MCID]) properties of the Patient-Specific Functional Scale (PSFS) in snakebite envenomation.

Methods

We performed a secondary analysis of two existing snakebite trials that measured clinical outcomes using the PSFS as well as other quality of life and functional assessments. Data were collected at 3, 7, 10, and 17 days. Reliability was determined using Cronbach’s alpha for internal consistency and the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) for temporal stability at 10 and 17 days. Validity was assessed using concurrent validity correlating with the other assessments. The MCID was evaluated using the following criteria: (1) the distribution of stable patients according to both standard error of measurement (SEM) and responsiveness techniques, and (2) anchor-based methods to compare between individuals and to detect discriminant ability of a positive change with a receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve and optimal cutoff point.

Results

A total of 86 patients were evaluated in this study. The average PSFS scores were 5.37 (SD 3.23), 7.95 (SD 2.22), and 9.12 (SD 1.37) at 3, 7, and 10 days, respectively. Negligible floor effect was observed (maximum of 8% at 3 days); however, a ceiling effect was observed at 17 days (25%). The PSFS showed good reliability with an internal consistency of 0.91 (Cronbach’s alpha) (95% CI 0.88, 0.95) and a temporal stability of 0.83 (ICC) (95% CI 0.72, 0.89). The PSFS showed a strong positive correlation with quality of life and functional assessments. The MCID was approximately 1.0 for all methods.

Conclusions

With an MCID of approximately 1 point, the PSFS is a valid and reliable tool to assess quality of life and functionality in patients with snake envenomation.

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<![CDATA[The role of Virus "X" (Tortoise Picornavirus) in kidney disease and shell weakness syndrome in European tortoise species determined by experimental infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c75ac17d5eed0c484d08133

Tortoise Picornavirus (ToPV) commonly known as Virus "X" was recently discovered in juvenile European tortoises suffering from soft carapace and plastron as well as kidney disease. Therefore, this virus was a potential candidate to be a causative agent for these disease patterns. Spur thighed tortoises (Testudo graeca) seemed to be more susceptible to establish clinical symptoms than other European species like T. hermanni. Thus this trial investigated the role of ToPV in the described syndrome. Two groups of juvenile European tortoises (T. graeca and T.hermanni) each of 10 animals, were cloacally, oronasally and intracoelomically inoculated with an infectious dose (~ 2000 TICD) of a ToPV strain isolated from a diseased T. graeca. A control group of two animals of each species received non-infected cell culture supernatant. The tortoises were examined daily and pharyngeal and cloacal swabs for detection of ToPV-RNA by RT-PCR were taken from each animal every six days for a period of 6 months. At the end of the study the remaining animals were euthanised and dissected. Bacteriological and parasitological tests were performed and organ samples of all tortoises were investigated by RT-PCR for the presence of ToPV and histopathology. Animals that were euthanised at the end of the experiment, were examined for presence of specific anti-ToPV antibodies. Several animals in both inoculated groups showed retarded growth and a light shell weakness, in comparison to the control animals. Three animals were euthanised during the trial, showing reduced weight gain, retarded growth, severe shell weakness and apathy, in parallel to clinical observations in naturally infected animals. In all inoculated animals of both species an intermittent virus shedding, starting from 18 days post inoculation (d.p.i.), till 164 d.p.i. was detected, while the control animals remained negative. The virus was successfully reisolated in terrapene heart cell culture in 16 of 20 inoculated animals of both species. Histopathology of most inoculated animals revealed a lack of bone remodeling and vacuolisation in kidney tubuli which supports the described pathogenesis of nephropathy and osteodystrophy. Anti- ToPV antibody titres ranged from 1:2 to >1:256 in 13 of 20 animals, whereas all control animals were seronegative. The study proofed the Henle Koch`s postulates of ToPV as causative agent for shell dystrophy and kidney disease in both testudo species. The proposed species specific sensitivity towards clinical disease was not observed.

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<![CDATA[Environmental heterogeneity explains coarse–scale β–diversity of terrestrial vertebrates in Mexico]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c57e6f3d5eed0c484ef453e

We explored the hypothesis that high β–diversity of terrestrial vertebrates of Mexico is associated with a high environmental heterogeneity (HEH) and identify the drivers of β–diversity at different spatial scales. We used distribution range maps of 2,513 species of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds occurring in Mexico. We estimated β–diversity for each taxon at four spatial scales (grid cells of 2°, 1°, 0.5° and 0.25°) using the multiplicative formula of Whittaker βw. For each spatial scale, we derived 10 variables of environmental heterogeneity among cells based on raw data of temperature, precipitation, elevation, vegetation and soil. We applied conditional autoregressive models (CAR) to identify the drivers of β–diversity for each taxon at each spatial scale. CARs increased in explanatory power from fine–to–coarse spatial scales in amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The heterogeneity in precipitation including both, coefficient of variation (CV) and range of values (ROV), resulted in the most important drivers of β–diversity of amphibians; the heterogeneity in temperature (CV) and elevation (ROV) were the most important drivers of β–diversity for reptiles; the heterogeneity in temperature (ROV) resulted in the most important driver in β–diversity for mammals. For birds, CARs resulted significant at fine scales (grid cells of 0.5° and 0.25°), and the precipitation (ROV and CV), temperature (ROV), and vegetation (H) and soil (H) were heterogeneity variables retained in the model. We found support for the hypothesis of environmental heterogeneity (HEH) for terrestrial vertebrates at coarse scales (grid cell of 2°). Different variables of heterogeneity, mainly abiotic, were significant for each taxon, reflecting physiological differences among terrestrial vertebrate groups. Our study revealed the importance of mountain areas in the geographic patterns of β–diversity of terrestrial vertebrates in Mexico. At a coarse scale, specific variables of heterogeneity can be used as a proxy of β–diversity for amphibians and reptiles.

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<![CDATA[Warming seas increase cold-stunning events for Kemp’s ridley sea turtles in the northwest Atlantic]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c59feb8d5eed0c484135335

Since the 1970s, the magnitude of turtle cold-stun strandings have increased dramatically within the northwestern Atlantic. Here, we examine oceanic, atmospheric, and biological factors that may affect the increasing trend of cold-stunned Kemp’s ridleys in Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, United States of America. Using machine learning and Bayesian inference modeling techniques, we demonstrate higher cold-stunning years occur when the Gulf of Maine has warmer sea surface temperatures in late October through early November. Surprisingly, hatchling numbers in Mexico, a proxy for population abundance, was not identified as an important factor. Further, using our Bayesian count model and forecasted sea surface temperature projections, we predict more than 2,300 Kemp’s ridley turtles may cold-stun annually by 2031 as sea surface temperatures continue to increase within the Gulf of Maine. We suggest warmer sea surface temperatures may have modified the northerly distribution of Kemp’s ridleys and act as an ecological bridge between the Gulf Stream and nearshore waters. While cold-stunning may currently account for a minor proportion of juvenile mortality, we recommend continuing efforts to rehabilitate cold-stunned individuals to maintain population resiliency for this critically endangered species in the face of a changing climate and continuing anthropogenic threats.

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<![CDATA[Seasonal home ranges and habitat selection of three elk (Cervus elaphus) herds in North Dakota]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c61e8b4d5eed0c48496efe5

Changes in land use have resulted in range shifts of many wildlife species, including those entering novel environments, resulting in the critical need to understand their spatial ecology to inform ecosystem effects and management decisions. Dispersing elk (Cervus elaphus) were colonizing areas of suitable habitat in the Northern Great Plains, USA, resulting in crop depredation complaints in these areas. Although state resource managers had little information on these elk herds, limited evidence suggested temporal movements into Canada. We collected and analyzed essential information on home range and habitat selection for 3 elk herds residing in North Dakota. We captured 5 adult female elk in each study area, affixed global positioning system collars, and monitored them for 1 year (2016–2017). We estimated diel period, seasonal, and hunting season home ranges using Brownian Bridge Movement Models for each individual. We analyzed habitat selection using multinomial logit models to test for differences in use of land classes, and for departures from proportionate use based on random sampling; our predictor variables included individual elk, diel period, and season. Home ranges differed between the 3 herds, seasons, and diel period; gun and winter season home ranges were both larger than in summer, as was night when compared with day. Female elk generally restricted themselves to cover during the day and entered open areas at night and during winter months. Our results also suggest that elk in our study areas tended to seek more cover, and in the case of our Turtle Mountain study area, some cross into Canada during gun season. Our study provides a better understanding of the spatial ecology of elk in the Northern Great Plains while highlighting the need for enhanced international cooperative management efforts.

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<![CDATA[Lapachol and synthetic derivatives: in vitro and in vivo activities against Bothrops snake venoms]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c58d640d5eed0c4840319be

Background

It is known that local tissue injuries incurred by snakebites are quickly instilled causing extensive, irreversible, tissue destruction that may include loss of limb function or even amputation. Such injuries are not completely neutralized by the available antivenins, which in general are focused on halting systemic effects. Therefore it is prudent to investigate the potential antiophidic effects of natural and synthetic compounds, perhaps combining them with serum therapy, to potentially attenuate or eliminate the adverse local and systemic effects of snake venom. This study assessed a group of quinones that are widely distributed in nature and constitute an important class of natural products that exhibit a range of biological activities. Of these quinones, lapachol is one of the most important compounds, having been first isolated in 1882 from the bark of Tabebuia avellanedae.

Methodology/Principal findings

It was investigated the ability of lapachol and some new potential active analogues based on the 2-hydroxi-naphthoquinone scaffold to antagonize important activities of Bothrops venoms (Bothrops atrox and Bothrops jararaca) under different experimental protocols in vitro and in vivo. The bioassays used to test the compounds were: procoagulant, phospholipase A2, collagenase and proteolytic activities in vitro, venom-induced hemorrhage, edematogenic, and myotoxic effects in mice. Proteolytic and collagenase activities of Bothrops atrox venom were shown to be inhibited by lapachol and its analogues 3a, 3b, 3c, 3e. The inhibition of these enzymatic activities might help to explain the effects of the analogue 3a in vivo, which decreased skin hemorrhage induced by Bothrops venom. Lapachol and the synthetic analogues 3a and 3b did not inhibit the myotoxic activity induced by Bothrops atrox venom. The negative protective effect of these compounds against the myotoxicity can be partially explained by their lack of ability to effectively inhibit phospholipase A2 venom activity. Bothrops atrox venom also induced edema, which was significantly reduced by the analogue 3a.

Conclusions

This research using a natural quinone and some related synthetic quinone compounds has shown that they exhibit antivenom activity; especially the compound 3a. The data from 3a showed a decrease in inflammatory venom effects, presumably those that are metalloproteinase-derived. Its ability to counteract such snake venom activities contributes to the search for improving the management of venomous snakebites.

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<![CDATA[The impact of human activities on Australian wildlife]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c52188dd5eed0c484798e5f

Increasing human population size and the concomitant expansion of urbanisation significantly impact natural ecosystems and native fauna globally. Successful conservation management relies on precise information on the factors associated with wildlife population decline, which are challenging to acquire from natural populations. Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres (WRC) provide a rich source of this information. However, few researchers have conducted large-scale longitudinal studies, with most focussing on narrow taxonomic ranges, suggesting that WRC-associated data remains an underutilised resource, and may provide a fuller understanding of the anthropogenic threats facing native fauna. We analysed admissions and outcomes data from a WRC in Queensland, Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, to determine the major factors driving admissions and morbidity of native animals in a region experiencing rapid and prolonged urban expansion. We studied 31,626 admissions of 83 different species of native birds, reptiles, amphibians, marsupials and eutherian mammals from 2006 to 2017. While marsupial admissions were highest (41.3%), admissions increased over time for all species and exhibited seasonal variation (highest in Spring to Summer), consistent with known breeding seasons. Causes for admission typically associated with human influenced activities were dominant and exhibited the highest mortality rates. Car strikes were the most common reason for admission (34.7%), with dog attacks (9.2%), entanglements (7.2%), and cat attacks (5.3%) also high. Admissions of orphaned young and overt signs of disease were significant at 24.6% and 9.7%, respectively. Mortality rates were highest following dog attacks (72.7%) and car strikes (69.1%) and lowest in orphaned animals (22.1%). Our results show that WRC databases offer rich opportunities for wildlife monitoring and provide quantification of the negative impacts of human activities on ecosystem stability and wildlife health. The imminent need for urgent, proactive conservation management to ameliorate the negative impacts of human activities on wildlife is clearly evident from our results.

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<![CDATA[Host-specific phenotypic variation of a parasite co-introduced with invasive Burmese pythons]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3667add5eed0c4841a601c

Invasive Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus Kuhl, 1820) have introduced a lung parasite, Raillietiella orientalis, (Hett, 1915) from the python’s native range in Southeast Asia to its introduced range in Florida, where parasite spillover from pythons to two families and eight genera of native snakes has occurred. Because these novel host species present a diversity of ecological and morphological traits, and because these parasites attach to their hosts with hooks located on their cephalothorax, we predicted that R. orientalis would exhibit substantial, host-associated phenotypic plasticity in cephalothorax shape. Indeed, geometric morphometric analyses of 39 parasites from five host species revealed significant variation among host taxa in R. orientalis cephalothorax shape. We observed differences associated with host ecology, where parasites from semi-aquatic and aquatic snakes exhibited the greatest morphological similarity. Morphological analyses of R. orientalis recovered from invasive pythons, native pit vipers, and terrestrial snakes each revealed distinct shapes. Our results suggest R. orientalis can exhibit significant differences in morphology based upon host species infected, and this plasticity may facilitate infection with this non-native parasite in a wide array of novel squamate host species.

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<![CDATA[Coral-dwelling fish moderate bleaching susceptibility of coral hosts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c1d5bd2d5eed0c4846ecafb

Global environmental change has the potential to disrupt well established species interactions, with impacts on nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. On coral reefs, fish living within the branches of coral colonies can promote coral performance, and it has been hypothesized that the enhanced water flow and nutrients provided by fish to corals could ameliorate coral bleaching. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of small, aggregating damselfish on the health of their host corals (physiology, recovery, and survival) before, during, and after a thermal-bleaching event. When comparing coral colonies with and without fish, those with resident fish exhibited higher Symbiodinium densities and chlorophyll in both field and experimentally-induced bleaching conditions, and higher protein concentrations in field colonies. Additionally, colonies with damselfish in aquaria exhibited both higher photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM) during bleaching stress and post-bleaching recovery, compared to uninhabited colonies. These results demonstrate that symbiotic damselfishes, and the services they provide, translate into measureable impacts on coral tissue, and can influence coral bleaching susceptibility/resilience and recovery. By mediating how external abiotic stressors influence coral colony health, damselfish can affect the functional responses of these interspecific interactions in a warming ocean.

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<![CDATA[Development of sandwich ELISA and lateral flow strip assays for diagnosing clinically significant snakebite in Taiwan]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c0ed790d5eed0c484f143db

Taiwan is an island located in the south Pacific, a subtropical region that is home to 61 species of snakes. Of these snakes, four species—Trimeresurus stejnegeri, Protobothrops mucrosquamatus, Bungarus multicinctus and Naja atra—account for more than 90% of clinical envenomation cases. Currently, there are two types of bivalent antivenom: hemorrhagic antivenom against the venom of T. stejnegeri and P. mucrosquamatus, and neurotoxic antivenom for treatment of envenomation by B. multicinctus and N. atra. However, no suitable detection kits are available to precisely guide physicians in the use of antivenoms. Here, we sought to develop diagnostic assays for improving the clinical management of snakebite in Taiwan. A two-step affinity purification procedure was used to generate neurotoxic species-specific antibodies (NSS-Abs) and hemorrhagic species-specific antibodies (HSS-Abs) from antivenoms. These two SSAbs were then used to develop a sandwich ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) and a lateral flow assay comprising two test lines. The resulting ELISAs and lateral flow strip assays could successfully discriminate between neurotoxic and hemorrhagic venoms. The limits of quantification (LOQ) of the ELISA for neurotoxic venoms and hemorrhagic venoms were determined to be 0.39 and 0.78 ng/ml, respectively, and the lateral flow strips were capable of detecting neurotoxic and hemorrhagic venoms at concentrations lower than 5 and 50 ng/ml, respectively, in 10–15 min. Tests of lateral flow strips in 21 clinical snakebite cases showed 100% specificity and 100% sensitivity for neurotoxic envenomation, whereas the sensitivity for detecting hemorrhagic envenomation samples was 36.4%. We herein presented a feasible strategy for developing a sensitive sandwich ELISA and lateral flow strip assay for detecting and differentiating venom proteins from hemorrhagic and neurotoxic snakes. A useful snakebite diagnostic guideline according to the lateral flow strip results and clinical symptoms was proposed to help physicians to use antivenoms appropriately. The two-test-line lateral flow strip assay could potentially be applied in an emergency room setting to help physicians diagnose and manage snakebite victims.

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<![CDATA[Characterization of Haartman Institute snake virus-1 (HISV-1) and HISV-like viruses—The representatives of genus Hartmanivirus, family Arenaviridae]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5bf5cc38d5eed0c484a81c09

The family Arenaviridae comprises three genera, Mammarenavirus, Reptarenavirus and the most recently added Hartmanivirus. Arenaviruses have a bisegmented genome with ambisense coding strategy. For mammarenaviruses and reptarenaviruses the L segment encodes the Z protein (ZP) and the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and the S segment encodes the glycoprotein precursor and the nucleoprotein. Herein we report the full length genome and characterization of Haartman Institute snake virus-1 (HISV-1), the putative type species of hartmaniviruses. The L segment of HISV-1 lacks an open-reading frame for ZP, and our analysis of purified HISV-1 particles by SDS-PAGE and electron microscopy further support the lack of ZP. Since we originally identified HISV-1 in co-infection with a reptarenavirus, one could hypothesize that co-infecting reptarenavirus provides the ZP to complement HISV-1. However, we observed that co-infection does not markedly affect the amount of hartmanivirus or reptarenavirus RNA released from infected cells in vitro, indicating that HISV-1 does not benefit from reptarenavirus ZP. Furthermore, we succeeded in generating a pure HISV-1 isolate showing the virus to replicate without ZP. Immunofluorescence and ultrastructural studies demonstrate that, unlike reptarenaviruses, HISV-1 does not produce the intracellular inclusion bodies typical for the reptarenavirus-induced boid inclusion body disease (BIBD). While we observed HISV-1 to be slightly cytopathic for cultured boid cells, the histological and immunohistological investigation of HISV-positive snakes showed no evidence of a pathological effect. The histological analyses also revealed that hartmaniviruses, unlike reptarenaviruses, have a limited tissue tropism. By nucleic acid sequencing, de novo genome assembly, and phylogenetic analyses we identified additional four hartmanivirus species. Finally, we screened 71 individuals from a collection of snakes with BIBD by RT-PCR and found 44 to carry hartmaniviruses. These findings suggest that harmaniviruses are common in captive snake populations, but their relevance and pathogenic potential needs yet to be revealed.

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<![CDATA[Effects of acute exposures of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene and inorganic lead on the fecal microbiome of the green anole (Anolis carolinensis)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c12cf2dd5eed0c48491408e

Microbiome studies focused on ecologically relevant vertebrate models like reptiles have been limited. Because of their relatively small home range, fast maturation, and high fecundity, lizards are an excellent reptilian terrestrial indicator species. For this study we used the green anole, Anolis carolinensis, to assess the impact of military relevant contaminants on fecal microbiome composition. Fourteen day sub-acute exposures were conducted via oral gavage with 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene (TNT) and inorganic lead at doses of 60 mg/kg and 20 mg/kg of body weight, respectively. Body weights and food consumption were monitored and fecal samples were collected for high-throughput 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and analytical chemistry at days 0 and 15. At the end of the study, liver and gut were harvested for body burden data. Chemical analysis confirmed accumulation of TNT, TNT transformation products, and lead in liver tissue and fecal samples. Bacterial community analysis of fecal material revealed significant differences between day 0 and day 15 of TNT exposed anoles with an operational taxonomic unit (OTU) within the genus Erwinia representing 32% of the microbial community in TNT exposed anoles. Predictable changes in gut microbiome composition could offer an easily assayed, noninvasive biomarker for specific chemical exposure providing enhanced scientific support to risk assessments on military installations.

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<![CDATA[Stepping into a dangerous quagmire: Macroecological determinants of Bothrops envenomings, Brazilian Amazon]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c12cf5cd5eed0c484914472

Despite significant and successful efforts in Brazil regarding snakebites in the areas of research, antivenom manufacture and quality control, training of health professionals in the diagnosis and clinical management of bites, little is known about determinants of snakebites incidence in order to further plan interventions to reduce the impact of this medical condition. Understanding the complexity of ecological interactions in a geographical region is important for prediction, prevention and control measures of snakebites. This investigation aims to describe spatial distribution and identify environmental determinants of human envenoming by lancehead pit vipers (Bothrops genus), in the Brazilian Amazon. Aggregated data by the municipality was used to analyze the spatial distribution of Bothrops bites cases and its relationship with geographic and environmental factors. Eight geo-environmental factors were included in the analysis as independent variables: (1) tree canopy loss increase; (2) area with vegetation cover; (3) area covered by water bodies; (4) altitude; (5) precipitation; (6) air relative humidity; (7) soil moisture; and (8) air temperature. Human envenoming by lancehead pit vipers (Bothrops genus) in the Amazon region is more incident in lowlands [Adjusted regression coefficient [ARC] -0.0007 (IC95%: -0.001; -0.0006), p<0.0001], with high preserved original vegetation cover [ARC 0.0065 (IC95%: 0.0071; 0.0060), p<0.0001], with heaviest rainfall [ARC 0.0001 (IC95%: 0.00009; 0.0001), p<0.0001] and higher air relative humidity [ARC 0.0082 (IC95%: 0.0108; 0.0056), p<0.0001]. This association is interpreted as the result of the higher prey availability and further abundance of pit vipers in such landscapes.

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<![CDATA[An experimental study of turtle shell rattle production and the implications for archaeofaunal assemblages]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b6da1b9463d7e4dccc5faf0

Turtle shell rattles are percussion instruments used by Indigenous peoples of the Americas in ceremonial contexts to keep rhythm. Archaeological investigations in the southeastern United States produced several complete and partial Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina) shell rattles from mortuary contexts dating from the Archaic (ca. 8000–1000 BC) through Mississippian periods (ca. AD 800–1500). Fragmentary turtle remains, some identified as Eastern box turtle, are frequently recovered from non-mortuary contexts. Traditionally, these fragmentary remains are attributed to food waste. Given the archaeological and ethnographic evidence for turtle shell rattles, we need to consider how fragmentary remains might fit into the chaîne opératoire of rattle production. This paper presents the results of an experimental study designed to identify one such chaîne opératoire of rattle production. During this experiment, the data on taphonomic processes such as manufacturing marks, use-wear, and breakage patterns, were recorded. We then tested the taphonomic findings from the experimental study and an object trait list we compiled from known rattle specimens and documentary sources with archaeological turtle remains recovered from non-mortuary contexts at two Mississippian period (ca. AD 1000–1450) sites in Middle Tennessee. Historic indigenous groups are known to have, and still do into the present-day, make and use turtle shell rattles in the region. Ultimately, we determined that “food refuse” should not be the default interpretation of fragmentary box turtle remains, and instead the taphonomic history and contextual associations must be considered in full. The experimental process of crafting turtle shell rattles enhances our understanding of an ancient musical instrument and the success rate of identifying musical artifacts and distinguishing between other modified turtle remains in the archaeological record. This study expands our knowledge of ancient music in North America and prompts re-analysis of curated turtle remains in museums for rattle-related modifications.

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<![CDATA[Snakebite incidence in two townships in Mandalay Division, Myanmar]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5b4f2cce463d7e25bffba870

Introduction

The global incidence of snakebite is estimated at more than 2.5 million cases annually, with greater than 100,000 deaths. Historically, Myanmar has one of the highest incidences of venomous snakebites. In order to improve the health outcomes of snakebite patients in Myanmar, access to accurate snakebite incidence data is crucial. The last population-based study in Myanmar was conducted more than a decade ago. In 2014, the Ministry of Health and Sports data from health facilities indicated an incidence of about 29.5 bites/ 100,000 population/year (a total of 15,079 bites). Since data from health facilities lack information about those who do not seek health care from government health services, a new population-based survey was conducted in 2 rural areas of Mandalay region. The survey data were compared to those obtained from healthcare services.

Method

4,276 rural respondents in Kyaukse and Madaya townships in Mandalay Division were recruited using cluster sampling that involved random selection of 150 villages and random sampling of 30 households from each village. One adult member of each household was interviewed using a structured questionnaire.

Results

One respondent from each of 4,276 households represented 19,877 residents from 144 villages. 24 people in these households had suffered snakebite during the last one year giving an annual incidence of 116/100,000. During the last ten years, 252 people suffered snakebites. 44.1% of the victims were women. 14% of the villages reported 4 or more bites during the last ten years, whereas 27% villages reported no snakebites. 92.4% of the victims recovered fully, 5.4% died, and 2% suffered long term health issues. One victim was reported to have died from causes unrelated to the snakebite. While there was no statistically significant difference between outcomes for children and adults, 4 of 38 of those under 18 years of age died compared to 7 of 133 adults between 19 to 40 years of age.

Conclusion

This incidence reported by the community members points to substantially more snakebites than the number of snakebite patients attending health facilities. This higher incidence points to the need for a nation-wide population-based survey, community education about gaining access to care where antivenom is available, and to the potential need for a larger supply of antivenom and expansion of medical care in rural areas.

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<![CDATA[Cryptic, Sympatric Diversity in Tegu Lizards of the Tupinambis teguixin Group (Squamata, Sauria, Teiidae) and the Description of Three New Species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dadbab0ee8fa60bb9ce7

Tegus of the genera Tupinambis and Salvator are the largest Neotropical lizards and the most exploited clade of Neotropical reptiles. For three decades more than 34 million tegu skins were in trade, about 1.02 million per year. The genus Tupinambis is distributed in South America east of the Andes, and currently contains four recognized species, three of which are found only in Brazil. However, the type species of the genus, T. teguixin, is known from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela (including the Isla de Margarita). Here we present molecular and morphological evidence that this species is genetically divergent across its range and identify four distinct clades some of which are sympatric. The occurrence of cryptic sympatric species undoubtedly exacerbated the nomenclatural problems of the past. We discuss the species supported by molecular and morphological evidence and increase the number of species in the genus Tupinambis to seven. The four members of the T. teguixin group continue to be confused with Salvator merianae, despite having a distinctly different morphology and reproductive mode. All members of the genus Tupinambis are CITES Appendix II. Yet, they continue to be heavily exploited, under studied, and confused in the minds of the public, conservationists, and scientists.

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<![CDATA[Is the Karyotype of Neotropical Boid Snakes Really Conserved? Cytotaxonomy, Chromosomal Rearrangements and Karyotype Organization in the Boidae Family]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da2aab0ee8fa60b82242

Boids are primitive snakes from a basal lineage that is widely distributed in Neotropical region. Many of these species are both morphologically and biogeographically divergent, and the relationship among some species remains uncertain even with evolutionary and phylogenetic studies being proposed for the group. For a better understanding of the evolutionary relationship between these snakes, we cytogenetically analysed 7 species and 3 subspecies of Neotropical snakes from the Boidae family using different chromosomal markers. The karyotypes of Boa constrictor occidentalis, Corallus hortulanus, Eunectes notaeus, Epicrates cenchria and Epicrates assisi are presented here for the first time with the redescriptions of the karyotypes of Boa constrictor constrictor, B. c. amarali, Eunectes murinus and Epicrates crassus. The three subspecies of Boa, two species of Eunectes and three species of Epicrates exhibit 2n = 36 chromosomes. In contrast, C. hortulanus presented a totally different karyotype composition for the Boidae family, showing 2n = 40 chromosomes with a greater number of macrochromosomes. Furthermore, chromosomal mapping of telomeric sequences revealed the presence of interstitial telomeric sites (ITSs) on many chromosomes in addition to the terminal markings on all chromosomes of all taxa analysed, with the exception of E. notaeus. Thus, we demonstrate that the karyotypes of these snakes are not as highly conserved as previously thought. Moreover, we provide an overview of the current cytotaxonomy of the group.

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<![CDATA[Full-Length Venom Protein cDNA Sequences from Venom-Derived mRNA: Exploring Compositional Variation and Adaptive Multigene Evolution]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db37ab0ee8fa60bd35ca

Envenomation of humans by snakes is a complex and continuously evolving medical emergency, and treatment is made that much more difficult by the diverse biochemical composition of many venoms. Venomous snakes and their venoms also provide models for the study of molecular evolutionary processes leading to adaptation and genotype-phenotype relationships. To compare venom complexity and protein sequences, venom gland transcriptomes are assembled, which usually requires the sacrifice of snakes for tissue. However, toxin transcripts are also present in venoms, offering the possibility of obtaining cDNA sequences directly from venom. This study provides evidence that unknown full-length venom protein transcripts can be obtained from the venoms of multiple species from all major venomous snake families. These unknown venom protein cDNAs are obtained by the use of primers designed from conserved signal peptide sequences within each venom protein superfamily. This technique was used to assemble a partial venom gland transcriptome for the Middle American Rattlesnake (Crotalus simus tzabcan) by amplifying sequences for phospholipases A2, serine proteases, C-lectins, and metalloproteinases from within venom. Phospholipase A2 sequences were also recovered from the venoms of several rattlesnakes and an elapid snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus), and three-finger toxin sequences were recovered from multiple rear-fanged snake species, demonstrating that the three major clades of advanced snakes (Elapidae, Viperidae, Colubridae) have stable mRNA present in their venoms. These cDNA sequences from venom were then used to explore potential activities derived from protein sequence similarities and evolutionary histories within these large multigene superfamilies. Venom-derived sequences can also be used to aid in characterizing venoms that lack proteomic profiles and identify sequence characteristics indicating specific envenomation profiles. This approach, requiring only venom, provides access to cDNA sequences in the absence of living specimens, even from commercial venom sources, to evaluate important regional differences in venom composition and to study snake venom protein evolution.

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<![CDATA[Epibiotic Diatoms Are Universally Present on All Sea Turtle Species]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dab5ab0ee8fa60bac6a7

The macro-epibiotic communities of sea turtles have been subject to growing interest in recent years, yet their micro-epibiotic counterparts are almost entirely unknown. Here, we provide the first evidence that diatoms are epibionts for all seven extant species of sea turtle. Using Scanning Electron Microscopy, we inspected superficial carapace or skin samples from a single representative of each turtle species. We distinguished 18 diatom taxa from these seven individuals, with each sea turtle species hosting at least two diatom taxa. We recommend that future research is undertaken to confirm whether diatom communities vary between sea turtle species and whether these diatom taxa are facultative or obligate commensals.

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