Zoology in the Middle East

Volume 66, Issues 1–4, 2020

0939-7140 (Print), 2326-2680 (Online)

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Zoology in the Middle East Volume 66, Issue 4


Habitat modelling reveals extreme habitat fragmentation in the endangered and declining Asir Magpie, Pica asirensis, Saudi Arabia’s only endemic bird (Aves: Passeriformes)

Christopher R. J. Bolanda, and Bruce O. Burwellb

aLand Protection Unit, Environmental Protection Department, Saudi Aramco, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; bRemote Services Sensing Group, Engineering Support Department, Saudi Aramco, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

The endangered Asir Magpie Pica asirensis formerly occurred in alpine habitat across Saudi Arabia’s Asir Mountains but is now restricted to small patches of remnant forest within a 37-km strip of highlands. Perhaps only 100 pairs remain and this tiny population appears to be declining, though the causes of its decline are unknown. We mined published presence/absence data to develop a fuzzy logic habitat model. The model considered six variables that correlate with Asir Magpie presence: elevation, aspect, forested areas, drainage systems, and major urban areas. Our model reveals that only 80 km2 of prime quality habitat remains across 11 fragmented patches. We tested the model using 38 GPS locations of Asir Magpies from independent birdwatchers. In total, 35/38 magpies were located within the modelled habitat. We suggest that the Asir Magpie may be suffering from limited dispersal between isolated high quality habitat fragments, which could be leading to genetically depauperate subpopulations, thereby enabling an extinction vortex. It may also be suffering from habitat loss through development and construction, habitat degradation through climate change, unregulated grazing, overharvesting of wood, and over-consumption of food scraps. Corrective actions are urgently needed to save this rare and nationally endemic species.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 283-294.


Morphometric and molecular differentiation between Egyptian Stellagama stellio vulgaris and S. stellio salehi (Reptilia: Agamidae)

Mohamed A. M. Kadrya, Abdulaziz R. Al-Qahtanib and Sayed A. M. Amera,c

aDepartment of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt; bDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Bisha, Bisha, Saudi Arabia; cDepartment of Forensic Sciences, College of Forensic Justice, Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

From the seven recognised subspecies of Stellagama stellio, S. s. vulgaris is found in northwestern Egypt and S. stellio salehi in the south Sinai and are known to be very similar. A Principal Component Analysis was carried out for 14 morphometric features, PCA1 accounted for a little cumulative variation (87.03%) between the two subspecies with a strong canonical correlation (r = 0.999). PCA2 accounted for a high cumulative variation (98.04%) with a strong canonical correlation (r = 0.985) and head height (HH) was the only major parameter for the significant difference. Within 398 sites of 16S rRNA gene sequenced, 6 base substitutions were recorded between S. s. vulgaris and S. s. salehi and the pairwise genetic divergence was calculated as 1.5%, which is comparable to that found between some other conspecific agamids. Neither the morphometric nor the molecular data support the distinction of two different subspecies. No genetic difference was found between S. s. salehi and S. s. brachydactyla which occurs from northern Sinai over Jordan to Saudi Arabia.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 295-301.


Genetic differentiation of non-native populations of Gibel Carp, Carassius gibelio in Western Turkey by ISSR and SRAP markers

Sevan Ağdamara, Ömür Baysalb, Ayşegül Yıldızb and Ali Serhan Tarkanc,d

aGökçeada School of Applied Sciences, Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Çanakkale, Turkey; bDepartment of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Faculty of Science, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Muğla, Turkey; cFaculty of Fisheries, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Muğla, Turkey; dDepartment of Ecology and Vertebrate Zoology, Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection, University of Łódź, Łódź, Poland

Freshwater fish are one of the most frequently translocated and introduced aquatic animal groups and exhibit higher establishment ratios than many other taxa. Introductions are usually irreversible. One of common non-native fish species in Turkey is the Gibel Carp, Carassius gibelio which was introduced in the 1980s and is now widespread. We tested dominant markers (ISSR and SRAP) for genetic characterisation of Gibel Carp samples collected from eight locations in western Turkey. ISSR and SRAP marker sets showed that the level of gene flow between these populations (Nm = 0.45 / Nm = 0.47) is low and that the level of genetic differentiation (GST = 0.53 / GST = 0.52) is high. Inter-population variation detected by ISSR and SRAP markers constituted half part of the population (46.88 / 50.00%), while the rest was at intra-population level. These results indicate that the present population of the Gibel Carp is the result of several colonization events originating from the different sources. The phylogenetic relationship among the populations suggest that there were two independent major introduction events, one in the Marmara Region and the other in southern Turkey.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 302-310.


Possible link between the structure of otoliths and amphibious mode of life of three mudskipper species (Teleostei: Gobioidei) from the Persian Gulf

Mehdi Ghanbarifardia, Carolin Gutb, Zeinab Gholamib, Hamid Reza Esmaeilib,c,
Christoph Gierlb and Bettina Reichenbacherb,d

aDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran; bDepartment of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Palaeontology and Geobiology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany; cZoology Section, Department of Biology, School of Science, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran; dGeoBio-Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany

The otoliths of three mudskipper species from the Persian Gulf that are characterised by different degrees of amphibious adaptation were examined using SEM imaging and otolith morphometry. Scartelaos tenuis, which is the most aquatic of the three species, has rhomboid to rectangular otoliths that conform to the general otolith type of many marine gobiid species. The otoliths of Periophthalmus waltoni, which is one of the most amphibious mudskipper species, are pentagonal-shaped and deviate from the usual otolith type of the Gobiidae by the absence of a posterodorsal projection and deep ostial lobes. Boleophthalmus dussumieri is intermediate with respect to its amphibious adaptation between S. tenuis and P. waltoni, and the shape of its otoliths is intermediate between the otoliths of those two species. Otolith morphometry related to sulcus measurements more clearly separated P. waltoni from B. dussumieri, than S. tenuis from either P. waltoni or B. dussumieri. As P. waltoni and B. dussumieri can occur syntopically and display similar behaviours, the morphometric disparity of their sulcus proportions might be related to efficient intraspecific communication among neighbouring species.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 311-320.


Validation of Palaemon audouini Heller, 1861 (Crustacea: Decapoda: Palaemonidae), an overlooked species from the Red Sea

Sammy De Gravea and Christopher W. Ashelbyb

aOxford University Museum of Natural History, Oxford, United Kingdom; bAPEM Ltd., Letchworth Garden City, United Kingdom

The shrimp species Palaemon audouini Heller, 1861, described from the Red Sea, has long been considered a nomen dubium but examination of the type material in the zoological collections of the Naturhistorisches Museum in Wien, Austria determined that it represents a valid species. It is morphologically close to the widespread P. pacificus, but can be distinguished by the length of the chela of the second pereiopod in relation to the carpus, and details of the scaphocerite and rostrum. The known Palaemon fauna of the Red Sea is briefly reviewed and reasons why the species could have been overlooked for so long are discussed.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 321-330.


Some like it hot: Phallocryptus fahimii sp. n. (Crustacea: Anostraca: Thamnocephalidae) from the Lut desert, the hottest place on Earth

Martin Schwentnera, Alexander V. Rudovb and Hossein Rajaeic

aNaturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria; bDepartment of Plant Sciences, School of Biology, College of Sciences, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran; cState Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany

We describe Phallocryptus fahimii sp. n., the fifth species in the genus, based on combined morphological and molecular genetic analyses. It is endemic to Iran and known only from its type locality in the Lut desert. The Lut desert has been designated the “Thermal pole of the Earth” with surface temperatures reaching up to 78.2°C. Shallow, ephemeral pools are filled by seasonal floods deriving from spring precipitations. Phallocryptus fahimii sp. n. is most closely related to the Mongolian P. tserensodnomi Alonso & Ventura, 2013. Males can be differentiated based on the relatively long frontal organ, the strong curvature of the labral distal process and the usual lack of a ventrolateral spine of the genital segment.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 331-341.


new micropterous species of the genus Sunius Stephens, 1829 from Central Anatolia (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae)

Sinan Anlaş

Alaşehir Vocational School, Manisa Celal Bayar University, Alaşehir, Manisa, Turkey

Sunius shavrini sp. n. is described from Ankara province in central Anatolia. While most of the Turkish Sunius species, especially all Turkish endemics are restricted to the mountains of western Anatolia and the Taurus mountains in southern Anatolia, the new species has been found in the northern part of Central Anatolia. Additional records of two species of Sunius are reported from Turkey. The genus is now represented in Turkey by 42 species, 38 of which are endemic to Anatolia.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 342-346.


Morphometry and colony structure of ants of the genus Cardiocondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Georgia

Nana Gratiashvilia, Lena Kuschelb and Jürgen Heinzeb

aInstitute of Zoology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia; bZoology/Evolutionary Biology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

The ant genus Cardiocondyla is characterised by a remarkable variability of reproductive life histories and colony structures. Little is known about the C. stambuloffii group, whose distribution extends from southeast Europe to central and eastern Asia. We here present data on the structure of Cardiocondyla colonies from southern Georgia. Morphometry and sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunits I and II indicates that it is distinct from the other species of this group (C. gibbosa, C. koshewnikovi, C. stambuloffii, and C. tibetana). Microsatellite analysis revealed a high nestmate relatedness and frequent inbreeding, matching the observation of exclusively wingless males and the phylogenetic position of the group in the “Palaearctic clade,” in which colonies are typically single-queened.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 347-356.


Contribution to the knowledge of the genus Ceratanisus Gemminger, 1870 (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) with description of a new species from Turkey

Maxim Nabozhenkoa,b and Erol Yıldırımc

aPrecaspian Institute of Biological Resources of the Daghestan Federal Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Makhachkala, Russia; bDagestan State University, Makhachkala, Russia; cDepartment of Plant Protection, Faculty of Agriculture, Atatürk University, Erzurum, Turkey

A new tenebrionid species Ceratanisus diyarbakiricus sp. n. (Pimeliinae: Ceratanisini) is described from southeastern Anatolia. This is the most eastern representative of the mucoreus species-group. The species is similar to C. mucoreus (Waltl, 1838) from the Aegean region and C. purcharti Nabozhenko et al., 2016 from Taurus mountains. New distributional data are given for C. funebris (Reitter, 1898) and C. mucoreus.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 357-362.


Phragmataecia effendii sp. n., a new species of carpenter-moth from Azerbaijan (Lepidoptera: Cossidae)

Roman V. Yakovleva,b and Nataly Yu. Snegovayac

aAltai State University, Barnaul, Russia; b Laboratory of Biodiversity and Ecology, Tomsk State University,  Tomsk, Russia E-mail:; c Institute of Zoology, Azerbaijan National Academy of Science, Baku, Azerbaijan

A new species of carpenter moth, Phragmataecia effendii sp. n. from the Şirvan steppe of Central Azerbaijan is proposed. The new species differs from the known Palaearctic species externally (colour) and in the male genitalia. A detailed diagnosis is provided and supported by figures.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 363-366.


Discovery of a new Cubiandrena species in Turkey (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae)

Thomas James Wood

Laboratory of Zoology, University of Mons, Mons, Belgium

The genus Andrena is one of the most speciose groups of bees, and because of its large degree of morphological variability it has continued to defy subgeneric classification. Recent advances have identified the species-poor group Cubiandrena Warncke, 1968 as both sister to all Andrena and deserving of recognition as a good genus. Previously thought to contain just two species, examination of undetermined material from Turkey has revealed the existence of a third Cubiandrena species, Cubiandrena nigripilosa sp. n., indicating that this country is the centre of diversity for the genus.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 367-374.



Perisomena caecigena (Kupido, 1825) in Sulaymaniyah, a saturniid moth new to Iraq (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae)

Farhad A. Khudhur and Soran H. Ahmed

Department of Biology, College of Science, University of Sulaimani, Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Zoology in the Middle East 66(4), 2020: 375-376.



Zoology in the Middle East Volume 66, Issue 3:


Age structure of a population of Chalcides ocellatus (Forskål, 1775) (Sauria: Scincidae) in Mediterranean Anatolia

Ahmet Mermera, Meltem Kumaşb, Hasan Serdar Mutluc and Kerim Çiçeka

aSection of Zoology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey; bDepartment of Histology & Embryology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, Turkey; cDepartment of Histology & Embryology, Istanbul Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University Istanbul, Turkey

We studied the age structure of a population of the Ocellated Skink, Chalcides ocellatus in Mediterranean Turkey using the skeletochronological method. We examined the cross sections of femoral diaphyseal of a total of 106 museum specimens including 53 adult females and 42 adult males. The snout-vent length was significantly correlated with age. The mean age was 6.0 years (3–10 year) for males and 5.8 years for females, but the difference was statistically not significant. Sexual maturity is reached after their third hibernation period. The lifespan was significantly shorter in southwestern Anatolia than in southern Anatolia (mean age 5.43 years vs. 6.50 years for both sexes combined; P<0.004). According to von Bertalanffy growth curves, the growth rates were lower in southwestern Anatolia than in southern Anatolia than.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 189-196.


The past, current and future habitat range of the Spider-tailed Viper, Pseudocerastes urarachnoides (Serpentes: Viperidae) in western Iran and eastern Iraq as revealed by habitat modelling

Behzad Fathiniaa, Dennis Rödderb, Nasrullah Rastegar-Pouyanic, Eskandar Rastegar-Pouyanid, Mahboubeh Sadat Hosseinzadehe and Seyed Mahdi Kazemif

aDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Yasouj University, Yasouj, Iran; bZoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, Germany; cDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran; dDepartment of Biology, Hakim Sabzevari University, Sabzevar, Iran; eDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Birjand, Birjnd, Iran; f Zagros Herpetological Institute, Qom, Iran

To date, at least 72 endemic reptilian species have reported from Iran including the Spider-tailed Viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides), which has a very limited, narrow distribution, and occurs in areas of western Iran and eastern Iraq. The potential distribution of Pseudocerastes urarachnoides in Iran for the present, the past (mid-Holocene and last glacial maximum), and the future (2100) was predicted by Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) modelling using 99 occurrence records as well as 19 environmental variables derived from climate databases. For all projected potential distributions, the principal components 1 (explained primarily by thermal variables) and 2 (explained primarily by precipitation variables) contributed more than 80% collectively in all MaxEnt models. The extreme eastern distribution range of P. urarachnoides corresponds to the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains within the Iraq territories. According to the projections, the current distribution area is smaller than in the mid-Holocene but larger than the last glacial maximum and three out of four scenarios of the future (2100). Future projections dramatically displace the suitable habitat, leading to a mismatch between the current and future habitat range of the Spider-tailed Viper.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 197-205.


Reproductive biology of the Short-snouted Seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Eastern Black Sea of Turkey (Osteichthyes: Syngnathidae)

Burcu Taylan, Şule Gürkan and Ertan Taşkavak

Department of Hydrobiology, Faculty of Fisheries, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey

The reproductive characteristics of the Short-snouted Seahorse, Hippocampus hippocampus, was studied in the eastern Black Sea shore over a one-year period. Average standard length was 10.38 cm (6.15–13.3 cm) and weight 1.88 g (0.68–3.02 g). Males were slightly more common than females (females: 48%), but the difference was statistically insignificant (p>0.05). This was highest in autumn and lowest in winter, while there were no differences between the sexes (p>0.05). A sequential spiral of developing oocytes was observed from the earliest stage in the germinal ridge to the mature edge with the largest oocyte. Mature oocytes were found in histological sections during the summer season and the results obtained from gonadosomatic index values confirmed that the summer season is the breeding period of H. hippocampus at the eastern Black Sea shore of Turkey.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 222-231.


A new species of Cynips (Cynipidae: Cynipini) from Turkey

Musa Azmaza and Yusuf Katılmışb

aDepartment of Veterinary, Acıpayam Vocational High School, Pamukkale University, Acıpayam, Denizli, Turkey; bDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Pamukkale University, Denizli, Turkey

A new species of oak gall wasp, Cynips baskalei sp. n. (Cynipidae: Cynipini), was described from Turkey. Only asexual females of the species are known and induce galls on leaves of Quercus macranthera Fisch. & Mey. ex Hohen., Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl. and Quercus pubescens Willd. SEM images, data on the diagnosis, distribution, and biology of the new species were provided in this study.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 232-239.


A new species of Xerobion Nevsky (Hemiptera: Aphididae) from Iran

Shalva Barjadze and Nana Gratiashvili

Institute of Zoology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia

A new species of aphid, Xerobion eteriae sp. n., is described based on apterous and alate viviparous females, living on Acantholimon (Plumbaginaceae) in Iran. Differences from the most similar species of the genus are presented.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 240-245.


Distribution and activity period of the invasive Orosanga japonica (Melichar, 1898) (Hemiptera: Ricaniidae) in Turkey

Ahmet Karataşa, Ayşegül Karataşa, Nizamettin Yavuzb and Murat Gençc

aDepartment of Biology, Niğde Ö. H. University, Niğde, Turkey; bSociety for the Conservation of Nature and Wildlife, Atakum , Samsun, Turkey; cÇaykur, Tersane Factory Directorates, Derepazarı, Rize, Turkey

The invasive species Orosanga japonica was found at 38 sites in Black Sea coastal zone of Turkey. It was recorded for the first time from the Central Black Sea Region, and for the second time from Western Black Sea Region and in the European part of Turkey. Most localities were close to the Black Sea (<3 km) and situated at altitudes lower than 150 m a.s.l. with the highest records up to 500 m a.s.l. Maximum distance from the sea was in Alemdağ, with c. 15 km, and Erenköy, with c. 10 km. This species is confined in Turkey to the high-rainy and humid coastal zones. Additionally considering cultivated plants, O. japonica was found on 18 host plant species, of which 15 were previously not known to be used by the species. Nymphs of this univoltine pest were found between May and July, depending on the weather conditions such as rainfall and temperature. Adults emerged between early June and mid-September, with the highest density in the second half of August. Eggs were observed from late August to mid-June.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 246-252.


Review of the Middle Eastern species of Sphecapatodes Villeneuve, 1912 (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) with the description of a new species

Yuriy Vervesa, Liudmyla Khrokalob and Olena Naumovskac

aInstitute for Evolutionary Ecology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine; bNational Technical University of Ukraine “Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute”, Kyiv, Ukraine; cNational University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine

Sphecapatodes freidbergi Verves & Khrokalo, sp. n. is described based on 16 male specimens from Israel. A short characterisation of the genus Sphecapatodes and of the monotypic subtribe Arabiscina, a key, comments on the two Middle Eastern species (S. freidbergi and S. ornata Villeneuve, 1912), and a list of all seven known species are given. All species of the genus are distributed in the Palaearctic region, mainly in desert areas. A review of the larval trophic connections of species of the tribe Phyllotelini is also given.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 253-261.


Description of a remarkable new Andrena species (Hymenoptera: Andrenidae) from Syria

Thomas James Wood

Laboratory of Zoology, University of Mons, Mons, Belgium

As part of an ongoing revision of the Andrena fauna of Syria, a remarkable new species Andrena (incertae sedis) antilibanotica sp. n. was discovered in material collected from the arid Anti-Lebanon mountain chain in southern Syria. It has a combination of characters that defy current subgeneric conventions, but can be broadly placed close to the Cryptandrena due to its overall similarity to other Middle Eastern Cryptandrena taxa A. aruana Warncke, 1967 and A. monacha Warncke, 1965.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 262-268.


Genetic diversity within Leiurus quinquestriatus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) populations in Egypt as inferred from 16S mDNA sequence analysis

Moustafa Sarhana, Ahmed Badryb, Mahmoud Younesb and Mostafa Salehb

aMolecular Biology Laboratory, Zoology Department, Faculty of Science, Al-Azhar University, Assiut, Egypt; bZoology Department, Faculty of Science, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt

The highly toxic and medically important scorpion Leiurus quinquestriatus is the most common scorpion species in Egypt and in some regions, is medically problematic for the local population. We studied variation in the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene within 12 populations from different ecogeographical regions of Egypt. Our results indicate a high genetic variation among L. quinquestriatus populations with five haplotypes existing. Our data also suggests the existence of a distinct population of L. quinquestriatus in Sinai which may be a separate species.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 269-276.



Communal hibernation of Echis coloratus Günther, 1878 in Jordan

Mohammad Al-Saraireha, Mohammad A. Abu Bakerb and Zuhair S. Amrc

aOncology Department, Royal Medical Services, Amman, Jordan; bDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan; cDepartment of Biology, Jordan University of Science & Technology, Irbid, Jordan

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 277-278.


Observation of early mating behaviour in a sub-adult Leopard (Panthera pardus) in Iran

Bahador Arasteha, Shahrzad Rahmati b, Kambiz Baradaranic and Ehsan M. Moqanakid

aDepartment of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran; bDepartment of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Islamic Azad University of Central Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran; cIran Wildlife Conservation Association, Tehran, Iran; dFaculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway

Zoology in the Middle East 66(3), 2020: 279-282.



Zoology in the Middle East Volume 66, Issue 2:


Modelling the effect of competition for prey and poaching on the population of the Arabian Leopard, Panthera pardus nimr, in Saudi Arabia (Mammalia: Felidae)

M. Zafar-ul Islama,b, Rebbeka Volmerc, Ahmed al Bouga, Abdullah as Shehria
and Alexander Gavashelishvilib

aPrince Saud al Faisal Wildlife Research Center, Taif, Saudi Arabia; bCenter of Biodiversity Studies, Institute of Ecology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia;cDepartment for Sociology
and Anthropology, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

The Arabian Leopard Panthera pardus nimr, classified by IUCN as “Critically Endangered”, is Saudi Arabia’s flagship predator. The population of this species has declined to approximately 50 individuals and may become extinct in the Arabian Peninsula if threats are not addressed. In addition to habitat destruction, major threats include poaching and competition for diminishing prey species, two factors which may have been underestimated so far. The main competitors of the Arabian Leopard are the Caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi) and Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus arabs). With a Population Viability Analysis (PVA), we simulated various scenarios to demonstrate the impact of competition for prey and poaching. The population under stable natural conditions without poaching and restocking (supplementation) would have a survival probability of only 37%. Without competition by the Caracal, survivability of the leopard population would increase to 89%, and without the Arabian Wolf to 98%. The likelihood of extinction would be 1% if both competitors were absent. A second set of scenarios, with a poaching rate of six individuals per year, shows that the leopard would not survive over the next 100 years. Further, the stabilization of the population by means of restocking with captive-bred animals was simulated to test a minimal number of individuals required to substitute the Arabian Leopard population. In addition to the competition by Caracal and Wolf, supplementing a minimum of eight individuals would stabilize the population as it is now, and allow a maximum of six poached individuals per year. Our results demonstrate need for urgent protection of the Arabian Leopard as well as its prey with strict minimization of poaching. Our model, however, does not take into account the effect of habitat destruction and fragmentation, which may also have detrimental impacts to the leopards and associated species.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 95-106.


Potential impact of climate change on the distribution of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) in Iran (Mammalia: Felidae)

Taghi Mahdavi, Bahman Shams-Esfandabad, Hamid Toranjzar,
Nourollah Abdi and Abbas Ahmadi

Department of Environmental Science, Arak Branch, Islamic Azad University, Arak, Iran

The Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) is the biggest small cat inhabiting Iran. However, there is little knowledge about its distribution and conservation status. In this study, the maximum entropy approach was applied to relate presence records of the species to bioclimatic conditions of Iran. The current model was projected under eight different climate change scenarios to predict the future status of Eurasian Lynx distribution in 2050 and 2070. Results indicated that lynx favours habitats with low temperature, low variations in precipitation and relatively high amount of precipitation in driest season. Currently, 16% of the country area is suitable for the lynx and 10% of these suitable habitats is located inside the conservation area network. Under the lowest and highest carbon dioxide emission scenarios, 26 to 73 percent of suitable habitats will become unsuitable. Most of the remained suitable habitats for the lynx in the future are located in the north western of Iran, which is part of the Irano-Anatolian hotspot. There is an essential need to adapt the conservation area network to climate change to better conserve the lynx in Iran.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 107-118.


Discovery of the Black-headed Ground Snake Rhynchocalamus melanocephalus (Jan, 1862) in Cyprus (Reptilia: Colubridae)

Karin Tamara, Hans Jörg Wiedlb, Erez Mazaa,c, Daniel Jablonskid and Shai Meiria,c

aThe Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, Israel National Center for Biodiversity Studies,
Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; bPaphos, Cyprus; cSchool of Zoology, George S. Wise
Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; dDepartment of Zoology,
Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia

We identified two snakes from Paphos district in south-western Cyprus as belonging to the secretive genus Rhynchocalamus. They represent the first record of these snakes in Cyprus. Morphological features and mitochondrial 16S DNA sequences suggest that these specimens belong to R. melanocephalus, a species widely distributed in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The genetic similarity to a specimen from northern Israel may imply either a human-mediated dispersal or a natural colonization. These observations thus raise the number of snake species known to occur in Cyprus to 12.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 118-123.


New records of Plotosus japonicus in the Red Sea and genetic indications for its presence throughout the Indo-Pacific (Osteichthyes: Plotosidae)

Menachem Gorena, Nir Sternb and Ariel Diamantc

aThe Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and School of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; bNational Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, Haifa, Israel;cMorris Kahn Marine Research Station, Leon H. Charney School of Marine Science, University of Haifa, Israel

Swarms of striped eel catfish were observed for the first time in Eilat at the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea in summer 2017. Taxonomic and genetic studies revealed them to belong to Plotosus japonicus Yoshino & Kishimoto, 2008. This is the first report of this species outside the Japanese archipelago. Molecular comparisons (mtDNA COI) of this population with previously published samples show that this species is actually present throughout the Indo-Pacific and provide indication that this genus includes two of ambiguous identity species that await further examinations.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 124-131.


Revisiting the population of the Ghost Crab, Ocypode cursor, on the sandy beaches of northern Cyprus after two decades: are there causes for concern?

Dilber Barakalıa, Jake L. Snaddona and Robin T. E. Snapeb,c

aCentre for Environmental Science School of Geography and Environmental Science, Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom; bCentre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, United Kingdom; cSociety for Protection of Turtles, Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus

As a key ecological link in food webs of sandy beaches, ghost crabs (Decapoda: Brachyura) are important for the maintenance of sandy beach ecosystems due to their scavenger properties in temperate and tropical regions. A baseline study of Ocypode cursor had been carried out at Alagadi beach in northern Cyprus in 1994 and in order to address concerns that the species may be in decline on the island, the population was re-assessed over nine weeks during summer 2017. To enable comparison of data, standardised, indirect methods were used to determine population parameters such as burrow size, population size, distribution and density. Results indicated a significant, six-fold decline in population size. Average burrow densities in our study was up to 0.05 burrows/m2 in the general crab zone, while Strachan et al. (1999) had recorded up to 0.67 burrows/m². Possible reasons or factors causing such effects were considered such as invasive pufferfishes Lagocephalus sceleratus and Torquigener flavimaculosus from the Red Sea, climate change in terms of warming sea water and air temperatures and increases in extreme weather conditions such as windiness, and anthropogenic interventions such as human trampling and effects of increase in urbanisation. The management of sandy beaches and conservation of these species is urgent to re-stabilize the populations of O. cursor on the beaches of northern Cyprus.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 132-139.


Pseudamnicola thalesi sp. n. (Gastropoda: Truncatelloidea: Hydrobiidae), a new freshwater gastropod species from Western Turkey

Deniz Anıl Odabaşıa, Enis Akayb and Serdar Koyuncuoğluc

aDepartment of Marine and Inland Water Sciences, Faculty of Marine Sciences and Technology, Onsekiz Mart University, Çanakkale, Turkey; bDepartment of Biology, Faculty of Arts and
Sciences, Uludağ University, Bursa, Turkey; cGeneral Directorate of Water
Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ankara, Turkey

Pseudamnicola Paulucci, 1878 is a circum-Mediterranean genus which contributes substantially to hydrobiid diversity. In Turkey, the genus Pseudamnicola is mainly found in the southern regions. Material collected from an upper branch of Eşen Stream in southwestern Anatolia yielded a new species, Pseudamnicola thalesi sp. n. The characters of the shell, head and male genitalia are described and illustrated. The new species is compared with those of its congeners that have been recorded previously in Turkey.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 140-144.


Variation in Eoanthidium judaeense (Mavromoustakis, 1945) and E. clypeare (Morawitz, 1874) (Apoidea: Megachilidae: Anthidiini) in the Middle East: semispecies or cases of geographic dimorphism?

Max Kasparek

Heidelberg, Germany

The two bee species Eoanthidium judaeense s.l. and E. clypeare s.l. are endemic to the Middle East and south-east Europe, and each of them occurs in a light form, with rich yellow and light brown maculation, and a dark form. It was found that in both taxa the light forms are restricted to the Levant and the northern belt of the Syrian desert, while the dark forms are much more widely distributed. While the transition from the dark to the light form is abrupt in E. judaeense s.l., there is a zone with intermediate forms in E. clypeare s.l. A Discriminant Function Analysis carried out on morphometric para­meters enabled 87.5% of all females and 93.9% of all males in E. judaeense s.l. to be attributed to either the light or the dark form solely on the basis of morphometric data. For E. clypeare s.l., the respective values were 79.3% (females) and 82.5% (males) when intermediate forms were not taken into account. As the colour variation is thus correlated with morphological variation and the distribution is discrete without following a geographical cline, these forms should be recognised as distinct semispecies: The species pair E. judaeense (Mavromoustakis, 1945) and E. pasteelsi (Warncke, 1980) stat. n., and the pair E. clypeare (Morawitz, 1874) and E. hoplostomum (Mavromoustakis, 1945) stat. resurr. The areas where the dark and the light species meet are apparently secondary contact zones, and the putative hybridisation and lower level of morphometric distinctiveness found between E. clypeare and E. hoplostomum indicate that speciation is less advanced than in E. pasteelsi/E. judaeense. The dark forms seem to have evolved independently, probably as an adaptation to solar radiation and the two superspecies thus present notable examples of evolutionary convergence.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 145-166.


Two new species of Elathous Reitter, 1890 (Coleoptera: Elateridae) from Syria

Tamás Németha, Alexander S. Prosvirovb and Robin Kundratac

aDepartment of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest, Hungary; bDepartment of Entomology, Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia; cDepartment of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Two new species of the genus Elathous Reitter, 1890 from Syria are described and illustrated. Elathous serjillensis sp. n. is morphologically similar to another Syrian species, E. ekaterinae Preiss, 2003, from which it differs by the shapes of head, pronotum and male genitalia. Elathous transversalis sp. n. can easily be distinguished from its congeners by its pronotum which is distinctly wider than long. The discovery of new Elathous species in the Levant further highlights the importance of this region as a biodiversity hotspot.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 167-177.


Interspecific phylogenetic relationship among different species of the genus Buthacus (Scorpiones: Buthidae) inferred from 16S rRNA in Egypt and Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz R. Alqahtania and Ahmed Badryb

aDepartment of Biology, College of Science, University of Bisha, Bisha, Saudi Arabia;
 bDepartment of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Al Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt

The molecular phylogeny of three species of genus Buthacus, based on 16S rRNA mitochondrial DNA gene from Egypt and Saudi Arabia is presented. The inferred phylogeny based on maximum-parsimony, neighbor-joining and bayesian inference, indicates the monophyletic status of the genus Buthacus. A clear deep splitting between the “Egyptian clade” consisting of B. arenicola and B. leptochyles and the “Arabian clade” consisting of B. nigroaculatus was shown.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 178-185




Breeding of the Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, in natural and artificial nesting substrates in the United Arab Emirates (Aves: Accipitriformes)

Bilal Kabeer, Sadaf Bilal, Sadia Abid, Pavla Hejcmanová, Muhammad Arslan Asadi, Muhammad Jawad Jilani and Abid Mehmood

Zoology in the Middle East 66(2), 2020: 186-188.





Zoology in the Middle East Volume 66, Issue 1:


Genetic diversity and structure of the Great Gerbil, Rhombomys opimus, in Iran (Mammalia: Rodentia)

Mohsen Ahmadpour, Hossein Varasteh Moradi, Hamid Reza Rezaei, Mohammad Ali Oshaghi, Paul Hapeman and Abasalt Hosseinzadeh Colagar

The Great Gerbil, Rhombomys opimus, is widely distributed in degraded and fragmented desert and semi-desert habitats of the Iranian Plateau. Recent habitat fragmentation from overgrazing by livestock and a government-sponsored rodent control programme threaten to isolate populations and increase their susceptibility to inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity. We examined genetic data of the Great Gerbil in a region where they are data deficient to understand how distance, geography, and anthropogenic factors influence genetic population structure and genetic diversity at the landscape level. We extracted genomic DNA from 109 blood samples collected from nine populations across the Iran’s landscape and amplified four microsatellite loci to examine levels of genetic diversity and genetic population structure. Our analysis revealed two genetic clusters (K=2) that corresponded to R. opimus sodalis in the north slope of the Alborz Mountains (AM) and Kopet-Dagh Mountains (KDM) and R. opimus sargadensis in the south slope of AM and KDM. However, the observed genetic population structure could not be fully explained by north and south slopes of AM and KDM. Genetic variation was low to relatively high (FST ranged from 0.015 to 0.167) and was significant among some populations. We did not find a correlation between genetic distance and geographic distance, which indicates that the geographical distance was not an influential factor in genetic differentiation of the species in Iran. Genetic diversity within the populations studied appears to be the result of a complex mixture of limited local dispersal, social structure favoring female philopatry, and common ancestral frequencies.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 1-12.

Molecular phylogeny of the Arabian Horned Viper, Cerastes gasperettii (Serpentes: Viperidae) in the Middle East

Albert Carné, Behzad Fathinia and Eskandar Rastegar-Pouyani

The Arabian Horned Viper, Cerastes gasperettii, is distributed along the eastern edge of the Sinai Peninsula south and east across the Arabian Peninsula to Iraq, Kuwait and western Iran comprising two subspecies: Cerastes. g. mendelssohni in the Arava valley (Israel and Jordan) and C. g. gasperettii in the Arabian Peninsula and southwestern Iran. Phylogenetic relationships based on Maximum Likelihood, Bayesian Inference, haplotype networks, and genetic divergence among different populations of C. gasperettii are analysed in this study. Two mitochondrial (12S and Cytb) and two nuclear partial genes (C-mos and MC1R) with uneven distribution among the individuals were used to infer phylogenetic relationships. Bayesian inference (BI) phylogenetic tree indicates a dichotomy separating a southern (Oman, UAE, Yemen) from a northern clade (Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Israel). Except for the first dichotomy in the BI tree, other nodes are weakly supported. The concatenated tree inferred from maximum likelihood (ML) approach shows a similar topology in the main clades. There is low variability within C. gasperettii despite its vast distribution range. Mitochondrial haplotype networks support southern and northern clades with seven haplotypes in the 12S and five haplotypes in the Cytb. The C-mos nuclear network does not support these clades with five haplotypes. The polytypic status of Cerastes gasperettii which has previously been described based on morphological observations is not supported in the molecular results and the state of Cerastes. g. mendelssohni is questioned.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 13-20.

Reproductive biology of the Nile Soft-Shell Turtle, Trionyx triunguis, at the Seyhan River, Turkey (Testudines: Trionychidae)

Can Yılmaz, Ayşe Oruç, Ebru Çelik and Oğuz Türkozan

Several populations of the Nile Soft-shelled Turtle, Trionyx triunguis, are found along the Levantine and Turkish Mediterranean coast. The riverbanks of the Seyhan River hold one of the largest nesting populations. In a survey carried out between 2009 and 2018, a total of 209 nests were recorded (20.9 nests per season). Ninety-four percent of the nests were concentrated at one specific site where the nesting density was 4.18 nest/metre, but where most of the nests were predated by Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) or Golden Jackal (Canus aureus). 137 nests (65.5%) with altogether 5,716 eggs were therefore transferred to a safe place, where 1,811 hatchlings emerged and were released at the nesting site at the Seyhan River. The average clutch size was 40.8±0.89 eggs. The mean hatching success in relocated nests was 34.6%. A total of 1,718 eggs (23.0%) were predated by mammalian predators. The remainder were developmentally interrupted eggs of early (37.9%), middle (4.3%), and late (6.5%) stages. It is discussed whether the high rate of loss of early stage eggs is related to the translocation process.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 21-28.

The Long-snout Freshwater Goby Awaous jayakari (Boulenger, 1888) (Teleostei: Gobiidae), an additional fish element for the Iranian waters

Hamid Reza Esmaeili, Reza Sadeghi and Helen K. Larson

Members of the genus Awaous are found in fresh and brackish waters and have a circumtropical distribution from Africa to the Americas, with most species being found in the Indo-West Pacific region. Based on the detailed morphology and osteology of a specimen collected in southeastern Iran and comparison with type specimens, the Iranian population of snout goby is taxonomically assigned to Awaous jayakari. This is an additional genus and species for the fish fauna of Iran. A key for the inland and coastal gobies of Iran is provided.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 29-36.

A new species of the genus Pseudostrandesia (Ostracoda: Crustacea) and first report of the genus from Palaearctic region

Okan Külköylüoğlu, Mehmet Yavuzatmaca and Ozan Yılmaz

A new species of the genus Pseudostrandesia was collected from a shallow pond in Mersin province, southern Turkey: P. guleni sp. n. This is the first report of the genus from outside of its Indomalayan and Afrotropical distribution. The genus is known from shallow zones of warm water bodies reported from three main zoogeographical realms. Including the new species, the number of species of the genus Pseudostrandesia is now eight.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 37-45.

A new species of Oligoglena Horváth, 1912 (Hemiptera: Cicadidae) from Mediterranean Turkey

Abbas Mol

Oligoglena gogalai sp. n. is described from Olympos Beydağları Mountains in southern Turkey, which are part of the Taurus Mountains and are known for their high diversity and endemism rate of both plants and animals. The new species has a characteristic morphology and is distinguished from all other species of the genus Oligoglena Horváth also by its song pattern. It prefers the subalpine zone and lives in gramineous vegetation.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 46-57.

A new species of Obtusicauda (Hemiptera: Aphididae) from Iran living on Artemisia

Neda Sedighi, Mojtaba Hosseini and Mohsen Mehrparvar

A new species of the genus Obtusicauda Soliman, 1927 (Hemiptera: Aphididae: Aphidinae: Macrosiphini) is described and illustrated from North-Khorasan province, Iran: Obtusicauda iranica sp. n. The species is described based on apterous viviparous females, an alate viviparous female and oviparous females found living on the terminal parts of shoots of Artemisia sieberi, A. kopetdaghensis, A. scoparia and Artemisia sp. (Asteraceae). The new species is morphologically most similar to Obtusicauda dolychosiphon (Umarov, 1964). This holocyclic aphid is not typically attended by ants.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 58-67.

Review of the Middle Eastern species of Dolichotachina Villeneuve, 1913 (Diptera: Sarcophagidae, Miltogramminae) with the description of a new species

Yuriy Verves, Liudmila Khrokalo and Olha Panchuk

Dolichotachina separata Verves & Khrokalo, sp. n. is described based on a male from Egypt, and our knowledge of the other Middle Eastern species, Dolichotachina marginella (Wiedemann, 1830), is reviewed. The generic status of Dolichotachina vis-à-vis Metopodiella Zumpt, 1961 is discussed. A list of the 10 (including one fossil) species of Dolichotachina from the Palaearctic, Oriental and Afrotropical regions and 9 species of Metopodiella from the Afrotropical region are presented.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 68-75.

Taxonomy of the genus Ischnocolus in the Middle East, with description of a new species from Oman and Iran (Araneae: Theraphosidae)

Vivian M. Montemor, Rick C. West, Alireza Zamani, Majid Moradmand, Volker V. Wirth, Ingo Wendt, Siegfried Huber and José Paulo L. Guadanucci

Spider material collected from Oman and Iran revealed a new species of the genus Ischnocolus Ausserer, 1871, which is described as I. vanandelae sp. n. New records of I. jickelii L. Koch, 1875 from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and United Arab Emirates show a larger distribution of this species than previously known. The natural history of I. vanandelae sp. n. and I. jickelii is described and the rather unusual colour polymorphism of the latter is discussed. The genus now includes eight species, whose distribution is mapped.

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 76-90.


Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus recorded at the Turkish Black Sea coast for the first time

Ömral Ü. Özkoç, Deniz Oğuz, Can Nacar, Kiraz Erciyas-Yavuz and Y. Sancar Barış

Zoology in the Middle East 66(1), 2020: 91-93.



Zoology in the Middle East