ZooKeys 31: 179-191, doi: 10.3897/zookeys.31.261
Recent advances in phylogeny and taxonomy of Near and Middle Eastern Vipers – an update
Nikolaus Stümpel, Ulrich Joger
Abstract The number of recognized viper species in the Near and Middle East has been raised significantly in the last 25 years (Table 1). While some smaller genera remained more or less stable, the genus Vipera has been subdivided into four genera on the basis of molecular genetic data. Of these genera, Daboia contains the former Vipera palaestinae and D. russelii, Macrovipera the species M. lebetina, M. schweizeri and an undescribed, basal species from Iran, and Montivipera the former Vipera xanthina and V. raddei complexes. While the genetic diversity in the M. raddei complex is fairly low, it is high in the M. xanthina complex. This may give reason to synonymize several taxa in the M. raddei complex, while new taxa can be described in the Turkish M. xanthina complex. The number of known species in the Middle Eastern Saw-scaled vipers (genus Echis) must be raised from 2 to 6. These species belong to 3 different species complexes (an Asian, an African and an Arabian complex). A particularly high diversity of Echis is found in southern Arabia. Antivenom producers should pay particular attention to new species in the medically important genera Echis and Macrovipera.