10 December 2005

Papers read this week: Zoology in the Middle East 35

Musical accompaniment: Jethro Tull: Thick As A Brick.

Zoology in the Middle East is published by the Kasparek Verlag in Heidelberg, Germany. The Journal specializes on the ecology, zoogeography, biology, systematics and taxonomy of the animals of the Middle East. The coverage area extends from the Arabian Peninsula thru Turkey and Iran to Armenia. The journal comes out twice a year with each issue, about 120 pages long, labeled as a separate volume.

The latest volume, 35, came out in October. The following are some of the articles from that volume that I found interesting.

Yousef, M. A. & Amr, Z. S. 2005. Altitudinal stratification and habitat selection of rodents in Dana Nature Reserve, Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East 35:13-18.
The authors collected or observed 12 species of rodents in a 229-km2 nature reserve in southwestern Jordan. There are 4 types of vegetation zones in the reserve: Mediterranean semi-arid forest, Irano-Turanian steppe, Acacia subtropical and sand dune desert. The Mediterranean semi-arid forests had the most number of species (7), while the Irano-Turanian steppes the least (3). My main criticism is that very few specimens of most species were collected to reach sound conclusions about their habitat preferences. For example, only 2 specimens of Gerbillus gerbillus were collected, both in sand dune deserts. That may very well be the usual habitat of that species, but I would hesitate to make any generalizations based on such a small sample size. Furthermore, 4 of the species were only "observed", but the authors did not indicate how many times each was seen.

Bilecenoğlu, M. 2005. Observations on the burrowing behaviour of the Dwarf Blaasop, Torquigener flavimaculosus along the coast of Fethiye, Turkey. Zoology in the Middle East 35:29-34.
The Dwarf Blaasop, Torquigener flavimaculosus, is a species of pufferfish that is a Lessepsian migrant in the Mediterranean Sea. When scared, the fish buries itself in the sand until only the eyes and a portion of the back are exposed.

The Dwarf Blaasop (left) buried in the sand with only its eye showing (right). Photographs are from the cited paper.

Seçkin, S. & Coşkun, Y. 2005. Small mammals in the diet of the Long-eared Owl, Asio otus from Diyarbakır, Turkey. Zoology in the Middle East 35:102-103.
The authors examined the remains of mammals in 211 pellets of the Long-eared Owl collected over a year in one location in southeatern Turkey. They identified 8 species of mammals from the remains recovered from the pellets. The vole Microtus guentheri comprised about 71% of the prey remains.

Haddad et al., 2005. Record of Sphecophaga vesparum, a natural enemy of Vespa orientalis in northern Jordan. Zoology in the Middle East 35:114-116.
The Oriental Hornet, Vespa orientalis, apparently a widespread species whose range extends from southern Europe, thru Middle East to India, preys on various insects, including honeybees and is an apicultural pest. The nests of the hornet in Jordan were infested with the parasitoid wasp Sphecophaga vesparum. The authors emphasize the potential role of S. vesparum for the biological control of V. orientalis.

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