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Herpetological Monographs, 22, 2008, 1–30 E 2008 by The Herpetologists’ League, Inc.



Departamento de Vertebrados, Museu Nacional, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Quinta da Boa Vista, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 20940-040, Brazil ABSTRACT: The Epicrates cenchria complex is endemic to theNeotropical region, occurring in mainland portions of Central and South America. The taxonomic status of the nine currently recognized subspecies (E. c. alvarezi, E. c. assisi, E. c. barbouri, E. c. cenchria, E. c. crassus, E. c. gaigei, E. c. hygrophilus, E. c. maurus, and E. c. polylepis), were evaluated based on external morphology, osteology, and hemipenis characters. Results obtained throughquantitative and qualitative analyses support the recognition of E. alvarezi, E. assisi, E. cenchria, E. crassus, and E. maurus as distinct species based on statistically robust delimitation of species boundaries. Key words: Boinae; Epicrates cenchria complex; Morphological variation; Morphometry; Species boundaries; Taxonomy.

THE boid genus Epicrates Wagler is currently recognized as aparaphyletic group with respect to Eunectes Wagler, owing to recent studies those found mainland Epicrates in a sister relationship group with Eunectes (Burbrink, 2005; Noonan and Chippindale, 2006). The genus is endemic to the Neotropical region, and contains ten species (Kluge, 1989; McDiarmid et al., 1999) comprising two monophyletic groups (Burbrink, 2005; Kluge, 1989; Noonan & Chippindale, 2006;Passos, 2003). An insular group distributed in the West Indian islands contains 21 taxa (Henderson and Powell, 2007), whereas the continental endemic Epicrates cenchria (Linnaeus) has nine currently recognized subspecies (McDiarmid et al., 1999), but see bellow. The Epicrates cenchria complex (sensu McDiarmid et al., 1999) is a monophyletic group (Passos 2003), ranging from mainland portions ofNicaragua to Argentina, and at Trinidad & Tobago and Margarita continental ¨ islands (Kohler, 2003; McDiarmid et al., 1999). Although the taxonomic status of the Caribbean taxa has been partially resolved (see Schwartz and Henderson, 1988; Sheplan and Schwartz, 1974; Tolson and Henderson, 1993), continental species of Epicrates remain poorly known (Duellman, 2005). The mainland group containscustomarily the following recognized subspecies: E. cenchria cenchria occurring in the east of the Andes at Amazon

CORRESPONDENCE: e-mail, ppassos@mn.ufrj.br 1

Forest from Venezuela south to Bolivia, eastern to French Guyana, and southeastern to Brazil; E. c. maurus Gray occurring in the Savannas or Dry Forest of the Nicaragua to northern Brazil; E. c. crassus Cope occurring in the open formationsfrom Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina; E. c. barbouri Stull occurring ´ in the Savannas from Marajo Island at ´ Brazilian state of Para; E. c. gaigei Stull occurring in the Amazon Forest from Peru and Bolivia; E. c. assisi Machado occurring in ´ the Caatinga from Brazilian States of Paraıba to northern Minas Gerais; E. c. hygrophilus Amaral occurring in the Atlantic Rainforest from east Brazil, fromthe States of Alagoas to Rio de Janeiro; E. c. polylepis Amaral occurring in the Cerrado from Brazilian States ´ of Goias and Minas Gerais; E. c. alvarezi Abaloz, Baez & Nader occurring in the Chaco from southeastern Bolivia to northern Argentina (McDiarmid et al., 1999; Passos, 2003). Nevertheless, recently Matz (2004) considered E. c. maurus as a full species and described two new subspeciesfor it, restricting the distribution of the nominal species to eastern and western Venezuela and Margarita Island; proposed E. m. colombianus on the basis of four specimens from Atlantic coast of the Colombia and Panama, extending their distributional range from Nicaragua to north Venezuela; and named E. c. guayanensis based on three individuals from Atlantic coast of French Guyana, expanding...
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