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Study of the correlation between hemipenial morphology and molecular phylogenetics within Bothrops(Serpentes: Viperidae)

Grant number: 18/26481-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2019
Effective date (End): May 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal Investigator:Miguel Trefaut Urbano Rodrigues
Grantee:Francisco Humberto Dal Vechio Filho
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil

Abstract

The study of patterns of diversification is a captivating theme in the evolution of species and lineages, being size, body shape, morphological characters, genotype, behavior, environment, among others, some of the attributes that are candidates for comparative research. Squamata hemipenis certainly are involved in the evolution of lineages and in the speciation process, since it varies among species forming a key-lock complex, which acts as a reproductive barrier. However, most of the work with snakes involving the organ, aims at taxonomic studies, neglecting the evolutionary potential of its morphology. Bothrops represent an interesting model for macro and microevolution studies of hemipenial morphology because the genus bears a high species diversity and robust phylogenetic data, with evidence of morphological variation in hemipenis at the inter and intra-specific levels. By associating genetic data with the variation of hemipenial morphology, we intend to test patterns of diversification in Bothrops, with emphasis on different groups of species, exploring their association with behavioral and/or ecological patterns. The detailed analysis of the population variation of the hemipenis associated with phylogeographic data and genetic structuring (gene flow) may reveal to us how the hemipenian morphology is involved in the process of speciation and diversification of the lineages. In addition, a descriptive study of hemipenial morphology in Bothrops, covering all species, will serve as an important morphological record of its variation in the genus, providing support for future systematic and phylogenetic studies involving these medically important snakes.