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1 April 2013 The Evolution of Diet and Microhabitat use in Pseudoboine Snakes
Laura R. V. Alencar, Marília P. Gaiarsa, Marcio Martins
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Reflecting their exceptional radiation, snakes occur in different habitats and microhabitats and are able to eat numerous types of prey. The availability of good and comprehensive phylogenies for different snake's lineages together with natural history data provides an opportunity to explore how ecological traits diversified during their radiation. In the present study, we describe the diet and microhabitat variation (arboreal or non-arboreal) in the tribe Pseudoboini and explore how these traits evolved during the tribe's diversification. We analyzed specimens deposited in scientific collections and gathered information on diet and microhabitat use available in the literature and provided by other researchers. We also mapped diet and microhabitat data onto a phylogeny of the tribe using the principle of parsimony. Pseudoboine snakes feed mainly on lizards and small mammals, and of the 22 species for which a minimum number of prey records was obtained, nine are diet generalists, six are lizard specialists, three are small mammal specialists, two are snake specialists, one is a lizard egg specialist, and one is a bird egg specialist. The highly diverse feeding habits of pseudoboines seem to have evolved mainly in the terminal taxa. Among those species that had enough microhabitat data (17 species), Drepanoides anomalus, Siphlophis cervinus, S. compressus, and S. pulcher frequently use the vegetation. Our results indicate that an increase in arboreality evolved several times during the diversification of the tribe, and that the Siphlophis clade seems to have maintained the high degree of arboreality from its ancestor. Species that frequently use vegetation are either lizard or lizard egg specialists, indicating that these habits might be associated in the evolution of pseudoboines.

© 2013 Brazilian Society of Herpetology
Laura R. V. Alencar, Marília P. Gaiarsa, and Marcio Martins "The Evolution of Diet and Microhabitat use in Pseudoboine Snakes," South American Journal of Herpetology 8(1), 60-66, (1 April 2013).
Received: 5 February 2013; Accepted: 1 March 2013; Published: 1 April 2013
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