Ventral coloration differentiation and mitochondrial sequences of the Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan

Hua Ching Lin, Shou-Hsien Li, Jonathan Fong, Si-Min Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Differences in coloration between eastern and western populations of the Chinese cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan have been noted by snake collectors, snake keepers, and users of Chinese traditional medicine, but have never been verified by scientific research. In this study, we quantified the amount of black pigment on ventral scales, and found prominent differences in ventral coloration of populations across Taiwan; populations in eastern Taiwan have black ventral scales while populations in the west are predominantly white. Previous studies have shown a similar east-west population differentiation in regards to venom components. We supplement these data with mitochondrial control region sequences, which show extremely low nucleotide diversity. Black-ventral and white-ventral snakes share major haplotypes and show no genetic differentiation. Nevertheless, moderate Fst and low Nm values between populations indicate low levels of gene flow. With a morphological fixation earlier than mitochondrial sequences on a relatively short evolutionary time scale, ventral coloration is potentially a result of local adaptation. Based upon the results of this study, along with traditional observations, we strongly recommend treating each of the four populations of the Chinese cobra in Taiwan as distinct ESUs. Reintroducing confiscated snakes from the illegal trade back into the wild needs to be halted to prevent artifical gene flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1097
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Genetics
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Oct 1

Fingerprint

Elapidae
snake
Taiwan
Snakes
color
snakes
Population
gene flow
Gene Flow
traditional medicine
venom
local adaptation
genetic differentiation
fixation
pigment
timescale
Chinese Traditional Medicine
Venoms
venoms
collectors

Keywords

  • Cobra
  • Coloration
  • Conservation genetics
  • ESU
  • Mitochondrial
  • Naja atra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics

Cite this

Ventral coloration differentiation and mitochondrial sequences of the Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan. / Lin, Hua Ching; Li, Shou-Hsien; Fong, Jonathan; Lin, Si-Min.

In: Conservation Genetics, Vol. 9, No. 5, 01.10.2008, p. 1089-1097.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{59960600df8347e7b2646c915c4224c4,
title = "Ventral coloration differentiation and mitochondrial sequences of the Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan",
abstract = "Differences in coloration between eastern and western populations of the Chinese cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan have been noted by snake collectors, snake keepers, and users of Chinese traditional medicine, but have never been verified by scientific research. In this study, we quantified the amount of black pigment on ventral scales, and found prominent differences in ventral coloration of populations across Taiwan; populations in eastern Taiwan have black ventral scales while populations in the west are predominantly white. Previous studies have shown a similar east-west population differentiation in regards to venom components. We supplement these data with mitochondrial control region sequences, which show extremely low nucleotide diversity. Black-ventral and white-ventral snakes share major haplotypes and show no genetic differentiation. Nevertheless, moderate Fst and low Nm values between populations indicate low levels of gene flow. With a morphological fixation earlier than mitochondrial sequences on a relatively short evolutionary time scale, ventral coloration is potentially a result of local adaptation. Based upon the results of this study, along with traditional observations, we strongly recommend treating each of the four populations of the Chinese cobra in Taiwan as distinct ESUs. Reintroducing confiscated snakes from the illegal trade back into the wild needs to be halted to prevent artifical gene flow.",
keywords = "Cobra, Coloration, Conservation genetics, ESU, Mitochondrial, Naja atra",
author = "Lin, {Hua Ching} and Shou-Hsien Li and Jonathan Fong and Si-Min Lin",
year = "2008",
month = "10",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s10592-007-9418-8",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
pages = "1089--1097",
journal = "Conservation Genetics",
issn = "1566-0621",
publisher = "Springer Netherlands",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Ventral coloration differentiation and mitochondrial sequences of the Chinese Cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan

AU - Lin, Hua Ching

AU - Li, Shou-Hsien

AU - Fong, Jonathan

AU - Lin, Si-Min

PY - 2008/10/1

Y1 - 2008/10/1

N2 - Differences in coloration between eastern and western populations of the Chinese cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan have been noted by snake collectors, snake keepers, and users of Chinese traditional medicine, but have never been verified by scientific research. In this study, we quantified the amount of black pigment on ventral scales, and found prominent differences in ventral coloration of populations across Taiwan; populations in eastern Taiwan have black ventral scales while populations in the west are predominantly white. Previous studies have shown a similar east-west population differentiation in regards to venom components. We supplement these data with mitochondrial control region sequences, which show extremely low nucleotide diversity. Black-ventral and white-ventral snakes share major haplotypes and show no genetic differentiation. Nevertheless, moderate Fst and low Nm values between populations indicate low levels of gene flow. With a morphological fixation earlier than mitochondrial sequences on a relatively short evolutionary time scale, ventral coloration is potentially a result of local adaptation. Based upon the results of this study, along with traditional observations, we strongly recommend treating each of the four populations of the Chinese cobra in Taiwan as distinct ESUs. Reintroducing confiscated snakes from the illegal trade back into the wild needs to be halted to prevent artifical gene flow.

AB - Differences in coloration between eastern and western populations of the Chinese cobra (Naja atra) in Taiwan have been noted by snake collectors, snake keepers, and users of Chinese traditional medicine, but have never been verified by scientific research. In this study, we quantified the amount of black pigment on ventral scales, and found prominent differences in ventral coloration of populations across Taiwan; populations in eastern Taiwan have black ventral scales while populations in the west are predominantly white. Previous studies have shown a similar east-west population differentiation in regards to venom components. We supplement these data with mitochondrial control region sequences, which show extremely low nucleotide diversity. Black-ventral and white-ventral snakes share major haplotypes and show no genetic differentiation. Nevertheless, moderate Fst and low Nm values between populations indicate low levels of gene flow. With a morphological fixation earlier than mitochondrial sequences on a relatively short evolutionary time scale, ventral coloration is potentially a result of local adaptation. Based upon the results of this study, along with traditional observations, we strongly recommend treating each of the four populations of the Chinese cobra in Taiwan as distinct ESUs. Reintroducing confiscated snakes from the illegal trade back into the wild needs to be halted to prevent artifical gene flow.

KW - Cobra

KW - Coloration

KW - Conservation genetics

KW - ESU

KW - Mitochondrial

KW - Naja atra

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=50249123933&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=50249123933&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s10592-007-9418-8

DO - 10.1007/s10592-007-9418-8

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:50249123933

VL - 9

SP - 1089

EP - 1097

JO - Conservation Genetics

JF - Conservation Genetics

SN - 1566-0621

IS - 5

ER -