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Reptile Database surpasses 10,000 reptile species
Date:8/1/2014

ific literature. Uetz and a team of reptilian and biodiversity experts, including many volunteers, organize the data, evaluate it and redistribute it.

According to Uetz, in recent years, many species are discovered by genetic analyses showing that species look very similar although they may be genetically different.

Uetz said that many of the experts contributing to the database, including himself, conduct research using taxonomic information. Some experts study the morphology or ecology of particular species, while others analyze certain characters across all reptile species. For example, Uetz helped some colleagues from Israel and elsewhere to analyze the effect of temperature on the distribution in reptiles. Another ongoing study addresses longevity in reptiles. Previous studies have included some meta-analyses that describe the rates of discovery over the centuries.

"Species discoveries continue unabatedly, but also ironically, as many species turn out to be endangered, as soon as they are discovered, given that many are restricted to very small ranges, such as mountain tops including small mountains," he said.

Uetz said that reaching the 10,000 mark happened faster than he expected, and could be due to an occurrence that taxonomists refer to as "revalidation" and "elevation."

"This means that species are resurrected that were previously synonymized with some other species, or that a subspecies becomes a species, respectively," Uetz said.

According to Uetz, there is much more work ahead for the Reptile Database, which has little to no support in terms of funding dollars. He said that in addition to collecting new species, the names of species are constantly changing because of new insights into their evolutionary history. Additionally, there is a lot of distribution and natural history data that needs to be entered, and then finally, all that data needs to be analyzed for various biological projects, includ
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Contact: Sathya Achia Abraham
sbachia@vcu.edu
804-828-1231
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert  

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