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South African Resource Portal
COVID-19 Corona Virus
South African Resource Portal
COVID-19 Corona Virus
South African Resource Portal
 
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Submit an article to Indago - a peer reviewed journal
Category

Animal and Plant Systematics Articles

Category

Sharon Holt, Beryl Wilson, Daryl Codron and Liora Kolska Horwitz.

Abstract

Studies of leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) deaths in South Africa’s central interior have revealed the devastating role played by electric fences. Data on tortoise mortality show that adult female tortoises are especially vulnerable to electrocution, which in turn negatively impacts on reproduction and growth of the population.

Image credit: An Atlantic Mudskipper rests on the sandy beach of the aqua-terrarium.

The National Museum is pleased to announce that its latest live display, Atlantic Mudskippers, has been reopened! Atlantic Mudskippers 𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑝ℎ𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑙𝑚𝑢𝑠 𝑏𝑎𝑟𝑏𝑎𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑠 (Atlantiese Klimvis) are aquatic fish that spend much of their life out of water, breathing through their skin or using water stored in their gills.

The girdled lizards (genus Cordylus) are a group of 21 species of well-armoured insectivorous lizards found only in sub-Saharan Africa. These diurnal and mainly rupicolous lizards occur from the south-western Cape of South Africa northwards through Botswana and Namibia to Angola, and elsewhere to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, south-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Kenya, with an isolated population in southern Ethiopia.

As part of an investigation into  the relationships of the crag lizards (genus Pseudocordylus), Dr Michael Bates and Mr Edgar Mohapi of the Department of Animal and Plant Systematics conducted several collecting expeditions in South Africa. Tissue samples from the specimens were used in genetic analyses to gain insight into the evolutionary relationships between the different populations. Several years later I was asked to assist with this project by expanding on the genetic analysis.

Photo 1Lithops lesliei subsp. lesliei in flower (Photo DP van Rensburg)

Plant adaptations are fascinating and intriguing.  A very advanced and interesting adaption is mimicry.  Mimicry can happen in different forms, in certain flowering plants, especially orchids, it can imitate insect pollinators, and some plants have flowers with a scent similar to rotting flesh.  Others, like the mimicry succulents (for example Lithops lesliei, Photo 1), have adapted to merge perfectly with the habitat in which they grow (Photo 2).