Abstract View

Zootaxa 3700 (1): 113–139 (12 Aug. 2013)
The phylogenetic position of Lepidopygopsis typus (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), a monotypic freshwater fish endemic to the Western Ghats of India

Lepidopygopsis, known as the peninsular-Indian hill trout, is a monotypic genus endemic to the Periyar stream-reservoir system, in the Western Ghats. Due to the morphological similarity of its only species, L. typus, with the Himalayan schizothoracine fishes, it was considered to be a relict species and a classic example of disjunct distribution. Using mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequence datasets, we show that L. typus is not allied to the schizothoracine fishes. Phylogenetic hypothesis-testing unequivocally supports a scenario in which L. typus and a clade comprising various genera of Asian and African barbins such as Tor, Gonoproktopterus, Kosswigobarbus and Varicorhinus are sister groups. Based on our results, we suggest that the sheath of tile-like scales covering the anal-fin base of schizothoracine fishes and Lepidopygopsis typus could be a symplesiomorphy or a homoplasy.

Zootaxa 3700 (1): 140–158 (12 Aug. 2013)
The genus Odontophrynus (Anura: Odontophrynidae): a larval perspective

The genus Odontophrynus consists of 11 species of medium-sized frogs distributed across south and east South America. This study examines and describes the chondrocrania and oral cavities of O. americanus, O. maisuma, O. carvalhoi, and O. cultripes, and review current knowledge about the larval external morphology of the genus. Twenty-one tadpoles were cleared and double-stained for chondrocranium description and five tadpoles were dissected for analysis in a scanning electron microscope. The presence of a tectum parientale may be considered here as a putative synapomorphy of the genus.
The O. americanus and O. cultripes species groups were partially differentiated by the length of the processus pseudopterigoideus, shape of divergence of the hypobranchial plates, number of postnarial papillae, and number of projections of the lateral ridge papillae. The larvae of O. occidentalis species group, in turn, differed from others by presenting a greater total length.

Zootaxa 3700 (1): 173–184 (12 Aug. 2013)
Pethia aurea (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), a new species of barb from West Bengal, India, with redescription of P. gelius and P. canius

Fishes currently assigned to Pethia gelius Hamilton from West Bengal are shown to belong to a closely-related group of three species: P. gelius, its erstwhile synonym P. canius Hamilton and a new species, P. aurea. The three species are distinguished from all other species of Pethia by having the lateral line incomplete, with 3–4 pored scales; 20–26 scales in lateral series on body; ½4–5/1/2–3½ scales in transverse line on body; 8–9 predorsal scales; barbels absent and by a unique colour pattern consisting of two or three black blotches on the body (which, however, fade on preservation), the first behind
the opercle, the second beneath the origin of the dorsal fin, extending to the mid-lateral region, and the third above the origin of the anal fin. A black spot is also present at the base of the dorsal and anal fins. Additionally, P. gelius is distinguished by having the last unbranched dorsal-fin ray thick, straight, serrated, with 20–25 serrae on its posterior margin; a snout length of 6.1–8.4 % standard length (SL); a body depth of 32.6–37.7 % SL; and a dorsal-fin height of 19.4–22.8 % SL. Pethia canius is additionally distinguished by having a snout length of 8.9–11.8 % SL; a body depth of 28.1–32.2 % SL; and dorsal-fin height of 26.9–32.8 % SL. Pethia aurea, new species, is additionally distinguished from all its congeners by having ½5/1/3–3½ scales in transverse line on body; 9 pre-dorsal scales; and last unbranched dorsal-fin ray slender, serrated, with 19–22 serrae on posterior margin.

Janson, C. (2013), Death of the (traveling) salesman: Primates do not show clear evidence of multi-step route planning. Am. J. Primatol.. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22186
Several comparative studies have linked larger brain size to a fruit-eating diet in primates and other animals. The general explanation for this correlation is that fruit is a complex resource base, consisting of many discrete patches of many species, each with distinct nutritional traits, the production of which changes predictably both within and between seasons. Using this information to devise optimal spatial foraging strategies is among the most difficult problems to solve in all of mathematics, a version of the famous Traveling Salesman Problem. Several authors have suggested that primates might use their large brains and complex cognition to plan foraging strategies that approximate optimal solutions to this problem. Three empirical studies have examined how captive primates move when confronted with the simplest version of the problem: a spatial array of equally valuable goals. These studies have all concluded that the subjects remember many food source locations and show very efficient travel paths; some authors also inferred that the subjects may plan their movements based on considering combinations of three or more future goals at a time. This analysis reexamines critically the claims of planned movement sequences from the evidence presented. The efficiency of observed travel paths is largely consistent with use of the simplest of foraging rules, such as visiting the nearest unused “known” resource. Detailed movement sequences by test subjects are most consistent with a rule that mentally sums spatial information from all unused resources in a given trial into a single “gravity” measure that guides movements to one destination at a time.

George H. Perry
The Promise and Practicality of Population Genomics Research with Endangered Species
International Journal of Primatology August 2013

Recent technological advances have dramatically reduced the cost of DNA sequencing. In addition, these methods require lower DNA quantities and qualities than did the previous generation of molecular techniques. As a result, genomic-scale studies of natural populations of endangered species, including those using noninvasively collected samples, are increasingly feasible. Such studies have the potential to advance our understanding of behavior, demography, evolutionary ecology, biogeography, and population history, and to contribute to the prioritization of conservation efforts. I point to a number of salient examples. However, there are also some current limitations and challenges associated with this scale of population genomics research in nonhuman, nonmodel species. Here, I describe the practicalities of the present state of this research while providing what is intended to be a straightforward walkthrough of the technology and methods involved.

Thiago Maia-Carneiro, Carlos Frederico Duarte Rocha, Seasonal variations in behaviour of thermoregulation in juveniles and adults Liolaemus lutzae (Squamata, Liolaemidae) in a remnant of Brazilian restinga, Behavioural Processes, Available online 10 August 2013, ISSN 0376-6357, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2013.08.001.
Adaptations of lizards inhabiting hot arid environments should include mechanisms of behavioural thermoregulation. In contrast, in environments with lower temperatures lizards tend to behave as thermoconformers. Herein we aim to infer thermoregulatory behaviours exhibited by Liolaemus lutzae (a lizard species endemic to restingas in the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) in two different seasonal thermal environments. In the dry season, the body temperatures (Tb) of the lizards were higher than air temperature (Ta) and similar to substrate temperature (Ts), suggesting thermoconformer thermoregulatory behaviour using Ts. During the rainy season, the higher percentage of negative values of ΔTs (=Tb – Ts) and ΔTa (=Tb – Ta) and the tendency for lower Tb compared to Ts suggest a more active behavioural thermoregulation in that season. The ΔTs was higher for juveniles in the rainy season, suggesting that youngest lizards tended to thermoregulate more actively regarding to Ts than adults. Liolaemus lutzae probably survives under high Ts due to the behaviour of the individuals sheltering inside burrows or under detritus and burying themselves into the sand. This behavioural flexibility may potentially reduce variations in Tb of active lizards in changing thermal environments both during the daily cycle and between seasons.

Á. Z. Lendvai, M. Giraudeau, J. Németh, V. Bakó, K. J. McGraw
Carotenoid-based plumage coloration reflects feather corticosterone levels in male house finches (Haemorhous mexicanus)
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology August 2013

Indicator models of sexual selection predict that exaggerated traits communicate information about sender condition or quality to conspecific receivers. Environmental challenges have often been considered as one such condition that could be encoded in an ornamental trait, and there is now extensive evidence showing how different stressors (e.g., nutritional, parasitological, and environmental) impact sexual signal elaboration. One of the primary means of assessing stress is by quantifying glucocorticoid (corticosterone or cortisol (CORT)) levels. For many ornaments, CORT impairs trait expression; however, the evidence is limited and mixed for one of the classic honest signals in animals, ornamental carotenoid coloration. In a model species for studies of carotenoid ornamentation (the house finch, Haemorhous mexicanus), we examined the relationship between male plumage redness and feather CORT levels, which serve as an integrated measure of hormone concentration during feather growth. We measured CORT in both tail (melanin-containing) and breast (carotenoid-containing) feathers and found that CORT levels were not different between body regions, but they were negatively correlated with plumage hue, with redder birds having more CORT in feathers. Despite opposing traditional views on stress and ornamentation, our results actually corroborate three other studies showing positive relationships between carotenoid coloration and CORT levels. Though the molecular mechanisms underlying such a relationship are still unclear, our results suggest that CORT should not be considered as a simple indicator of individual quality but rather as a mediator of complex allocation decisions or signals of metabolic activity that could link up with more elaborate expression of ornamental traits.

Halley, J. M., Sgardeli, V. and Triantis, K. A. (2013), Extinction debt and the species–area relationship: a neutral perspective. Global Ecology and Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/geb.12098
To estimate the magnitude of delayed relative to imminent extinctions and to assess the importance of delay as a potential source of error in forecasts of extinction. To formulate a simple mechanistic model using neutral theory that links extinction debt with the species–area relationship (SAR).LocationWorld-wide. We use the neutral model of biodiversity to describe how a community subject to immigration responds to an insular contraction. We investigate the species richness at different times after the habitat-loss event. We compare this with observed species losses in avian studies. From the model, two SARs emerge: one with a shallow slope for a habitat area before habitat loss and another with a steeper slope for the habitats that remain after habitat loss. From these curves, the first predicts imminent extinctions while the second predicts total extinctions. The difference between the two curves gives the delayed extinctions, namely the number of species that are lost during the relaxation of the community to equilibrium. The model agrees well with observed relaxation rates in communities of birds. The lag times for relaxation are often very large, with half-lives in the order of thousands of years for remnant areas above 5000 km2. In many parameter combinations explored, the majority of extinctions are delayed extinctions, and may exceed imminent extinctions by orders of magnitude.Main conclusionsExtinction debt is a major reason for failures to observe extinctions following habitat loss. Our modelling approach supports the view that a significant proportion of extinctions are delayed, so that the predictions of SARs (as currently applied) are liable to underestimate total extinctions. SARs are a valuable instrument for conservation but must be used with caution.

Benson, T. J., Dinsmore, J. J. and Hohman, W. L. (2013), Soil disturbances increase songbird use of monotypic re-established grasslands. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.302
Extensive conversion of natural areas for agricultural production has had many consequences, including reduced habitat for nesting birds. Increasing focus on habitat re-establishment has led to the establishment of patches of perennial herbaceous vegetation in these agricultural landscapes, although these often consist of monotypic grass fields with little vegetation diversity. In 2001 and 2002, we assessed songbird responses to mowing followed by a soil disturbance (disking) meant to increase vegetation diversity and abundance of arthropod food resources in conservation easements in East-central Iowa, USA. We randomly assigned fields to disking and control treatments and collected data on breeding bird density and species richness in these habitats before and after treatments were applied. Disking increased density of all species combined, several individual species including dickcissel (Spiza americana; a declining species of concern), and overall conservation value of bird communities in treated fields. Total bird density increased with disking when the size of disked area was relatively small, and dickcissels and American goldfinches (Spinus tristis) responded positively and negatively to block-shaped treatments, respectively. Most species either showed no response or increased in density with disking. Changes associated with disking treatments were likely related to changes in both vegetation structure and increased abundance and biomass of arthropod food resources. Disking appears to be an effective management practice for maintaining herbaceous habitats, increasing vegetation diversity and food availability for insectivorous birds, and increasing habitat quality for priority bird species. Given the increasing availability of monotypic grasslands in agricultural landscapes, this practice may provide a relatively inexpensive way to improve re-established habitats.

Lardner, B., Yackel Adams, A. A., Savidge, J. A., Rodda, G. H., Reed, R. N. and Clark, C. S. (2013), Effectiveness of bait tubes for brown treesnake control on guam. Wildlife Society Bulletin. doi: 10.1002/wsb.297
In 2008, we studied simulated toxicant efficacy to control invasive brown treesnakes (Boiga irregularis) using bait tubes (elongate bait stations that reduce non-target bait take) in a 5-ha enclosure in Guam (U.S. Territory) with a known population of snakes. Instead of toxicants, we implanted radiotransmitters in small (6.6 ± 1.4 g) and large (21.8 ± 2.9 g) bait-mouse carcasses, offered from 2 types of bait tubes over a 3-month period. The known snake population allowed us to characterize not only the snakes taking bait, but also those evading our mock control effort. Tube design had no effect on take rate, but snout–vent length was a strong predictor of bait take: none of the 30 snakes <843 mm in length took any bait, whereas 77 of the 126 snakes ≥843 mm in length took 164 baits. While medium-sized snakes preferentially ingested small bait (and the largest snakes tended to take large mice more frequently), some of the smallest snakes that took bait ingested large mice. Snake body condition was positively correlated to take rate, but snake sex had no discernible effect. Our data show that there is a relatively narrow size (and, thus, time) gap between the size at which the snakes become susceptible to bait-mouse take and the size at which they become sexually mature. This has implications for the timing of repeated baiting efforts, if the goal is eradication rather than suppression. Published 2013. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Zootaxa 3700 (2): 226–236 (13 Aug. 2013)
A new species of Astyanax from headwater streams of southern Brazil (Characiformes: Characidae)

Astyanax pirabitira, new species, is described from the upper portion of the rio das Antas, laguna dos Patos system, and from the rio Pelotas, upper rio Uruguay drainage, Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. The new species belongs to the A. scabripinnis species complex and differs from its congeners by a combination of characters, viz., body depth (27.1–34.0% of standard length), narrow interorbital width (22.2–28.7% of head length), head depth (72.9–97.0% of HL), number of branched anal-fin rays (15–20), number of lateral line scales (37–40), one or two maxillary teeth, two humeral spots and absence of secondary sexual characters (bony hooks in the fins or other differences in the morphology). Comments on the endemic fish fauna of the region are presented.

Zootaxa 3700 (2): 283–292 (13 Aug. 2013)
Biodiversity of hillstream fishes in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a country of 1,47,570 km2 of mostly flat topography, but about 12 percent is hilly. The hilly areas are confined to the northeast and the southeastern parts of the country bordering India and Myanmar. Hill streams are highly variable and very important for the study and understanding of the aquatic biodiversity of Bangladesh. Hillstream ecosystems include a variety of habitats including those with sand, clay, cobble, gravel, mud, and rock substrates. In a recent field survey, 82 species of fishes have been identified from those habitats. The ichthyofauna belongs to the following families
(numbers of species in parentheses) Notopteridae (1), Engraulidae (1), Cyprinidae (32), Psilorhynchidae (3), Nemacheilidae (2), Cobitidae (6), Bagridae (6), Schilbeidae (5), Amblycipitidae (1), Akysidae (1), Sisoridae (4), Erethistidae (1), Clariidae (1), Olyridae (1), Aplocheilidae (1), Ambassidae (2), Badidae (1), Mugilidae (1), Gobiidae (2), Osphronemidae (2), Channidae (3), Mastacembelidae (3), Belonidae (1) and Tetraodontidae (1). This paper provides a checklist of the hillstream fish species with their habitat preferences and associated fauna.

Perry, Neil (2013) The precautionary principle, uncertainty and the Noah’s Ark problem. Wildlife Research 40, 117–125.

Multiple biodiversity objectives have been proposed in conservation planning and economics for the Noah’s Ark problem – the problem of allocating limited funds to conservation projects – including species richness, persistence, taxonomic diversity, representativeness, the charismatic value of species, the broader concept of direct utility and ecological importance. However, these objectives are incommensurable and there is little consensus about which objective should be pursued, given the current state of nature. In economics, this is perhaps because the commensurability problem can be solved by converting all biodiversity objectives to monetary values. Yet, even here, a commensurability problem exists because fundamental uncertainty about species interactions means that ecological values cannot be represented in economic terms. Thus, maximising biodiversity value, combined as it is with a rational decision-making framework and assumed known probabilities of survival, can undermine the very values being pursued. This is especially the case when climate change is a current and future state of nature. Climate change adds additional complexity and fundamental uncertainties to the survival probabilities, the future value of species, the interactions among species and the probability of success of conservation projects. The associated incomplete information can lead decision makers to risky decisions under the current approach. Instead, under such conditions, the precautionary principle is appropriate. This leads to a broad conservation strategy of minimising the maximum regret and, when applied to the Noah’s Ark problem, an objective of ecosystem resilience or functional diversity rather than an objective based on economic values. The paper therefore provides an economic justification for focussing conservation resources and threatened species legislation on the resilience of ecosystems.

Gue, C. T., Walker, J. A., Mehl, K. R., Gleason, J. S., Stephens, S. E., Loesch, C. R., Reynolds, R. E. and Goodwin, B. J. (2013), The effects of a large-scale wind farm on breeding season survival of female mallards and blue-winged teal in the Prairie Pothole Region. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.583
The wetlands and grasslands of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) make it the most productive breeding habitat for North American ducks. The growth rate of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) populations is sensitive to changes in survival of adult females during the breeding season. Much of the PPR is suitable for large-scale wind-energy development and collisions of breeding females with wind turbines may be a novel source of mortality in this area. We assessed the effects of wind energy on breeding female mallard and blue-winged teal (A. discors) survival by monitoring 77 radio-marked mallards and 88 blue-winged teal during the 2009 and 2010 breeding seasons at the Tatanka Wind Farm (TWF) near Kulm, North Dakota. During the same period, we monitored 70 female mallards and 75 blue-winged teal at an adjacent reference site without wind turbines (REF). We used an information-theoretic approach to investigate relationships between female survival and site (TWF vs. REF), year (2009 vs. 2010), and date. Collision mortalities were rare. Only 1 radio-marked female mallard and no blue-winged teal collided with wind turbines. Most mortalities were caused by predators (78.3%; 36/46), irrespective of species and site. For mallards, the best-approximating model indicated that breeding season survival was 1) lowest when a high proportion of radio-marked females were incubating, and 2) dependent on year and site such that expected survival (inline image) in 2009 was higher at TWF (inline image = 0.90, 85% CI = 0.79–0.98) than at REF (inline image = 0.83, 85% CI = 0.68–0.95), but expected survival in 2010 was lower at TWF (inline image = 0.62, 85% CI = 0.46–0.79) than at REF (inline image = 0.84, 85% CI = 0.72–0.94). For blue-winged teal, the constant model was the best-approximating model and indicated that expected female survival was 0.75 (85% CI = 0.69–0.82). The most competitive model for blue-winged teal that included the effect of wind turbines indicated that expected survival at TWF (inline image = 0.71, 85% CI = 0.62–0.79) was lower than survival at REF (inline image = 0.81, 85% CI = 0.73–0.89). The limited number of collisions observed for female mallards and blue-winged teal nesting at TWF suggests that wind turbines had no direct effect on female survival. Thus, conservation strategies that include protection of wetland and grassland habitat in wind-developed landscapes will most likely not cause a direct reduction in survival of breeding females due to collisions with wind turbines.

Ganey, J. L., Apprill, D. L., Rawlinson, T. A., Kyle, S. C., Jonnes, R. S. and Ward, J. P. (2013), Nesting habitat of Mexican spotted owls in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico. The Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.599
Understanding the habitat relationships of rare species is critical to conserving populations and habitats of those species. Nesting habitat is suspected to limit distribution of the threatened Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida), and may vary among geographic regions. We studied selection of nesting habitat by Mexican spotted owls within their home ranges in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico. We compared characteristics of owl nest trees and nest sites to characteristics of randomly located trees and sites at 2 spatial scales: the general nest vicinity and within activity centers used by spotted owls. Owls nested primarily in mixed-conifer forest (92%), and most nested in cavities in trees or snags (48%), or in dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.) witches‘ brooms (36%). Owl nest trees had greater levels of dwarf mistletoe infection and were larger in diameter than random trees at both of the evaluated spatial scales. Nest trees also were more likely than random trees to be in white fir (Abies concolor) or Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and in trees or snags with broken tops. Differences between owl nest sites and random sites differed with the scale at which we selected random sites, but at both scales examined, owl nest sites had greater canopy cover and more basal area contributed by large trees and white fir than random sites. In addition, most nest sites occurred in drainage bottoms or on the lower 2 thirds of north- or east-facing slopes. Conservation of owl nesting habitat in this area will require retaining forest patches with high canopy cover and large trees containing cavities or large dwarf mistletoe witches‘ brooms. Locating forest management treatments on ridgetops or the upper third of slopes and/or on south- or west-facing slopes may reduce impacts to owl nesting habitat while simultaneously targeting the drier forest types most in need of restoration.

Sprau, P., Roth, T., Amrhein, V. and Naguib, M. (2013), The predictive value of trill performance in a large repertoire songbird, the nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos. Journal of Avian Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-048X.2013.00113.x
In animal communication, elaborate signals have been shown to be under sexual selection and often to reliably indicate a signaler’s quality, condition, or motivation. For instance, the performance of physically challenging signals such as trills – i.e. rapidly repeated elements of broad frequency bandwidth – is considered to reflect signaler quality. Nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos are renowned for their outstanding song repertoire sizes, and most songs include a variety of complex trills. In the present study, we examined whether performance of trills can reliably reflect male quality. We show that vocal performance of trills predicts the age of a male. Older males sang trills that were closer to the performance limit than did younger males. Moreover, males with narrower beaks sang more consistent trills than did males with wider beaks. Vocal performance of trills, however, did not significantly predict other measures of biometric quality such as body size or body condition of the males. The findings suggest that receivers could benefit from the predictive value of physically demanding song traits in assessing age as an important quality component of potential mates or rivals. Particularly in species with high singing versatility, signaler assessment based on readily assessable structures may be adaptive, as this will allow receivers to quickly gather relevant information about the singer without attending to the full song repertoire.

Zootaxa 3700 (3): 411–422 (14 Aug. 2013)
Epiplatys atratus (Cyprinodontiformes: Nothobranchiidae), a new species of the E. multifasciatus species group from the Lulua Basin (Kasaï drainage), Democratic Republic of Congo

Epiplatys atratus, a new species of the E. multifasciatus group, is described from specimens collected from several tributaries of the middle Lulua River, a tributary of the Kasaï River, south of Kananga (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kasaï Occidental Province). Epiplatys atratus is the south-eastern most representative of the genus. Large adult E. atratus
males differ from all congeners in displaying a dark grey to black pigmentation of body and fins. In contrast to other Epiplatys species, with a fully exposed laterosensory system of the head, the lobes surrounding the supra-orbital part of the laterosensory system almost completely cover the system in large males of E. atratus. Also in males of E. atratus the dorsal fin is positioned on average more anteriorly than in other members of the E. multifasciatus group. Small males and females show a unique pattern of three fine oblique dark bars just behind the pectoral fin.

Lees D, Sherman CDH, Maguire GS, Dann P, Cardilini APA, Weston MA. Swooping in the Suburbs; Parental Defence of an Abundant Aggressive Urban Bird against Humans. Animals. 2013; 3(3):754-766.
Masked Lapwings, Vanellus miles, often come into ‘conflict’ with humans, because they often breed in close proximity to humans and actively defend their ground nests through aggressive behaviour, which typically involves swooping. This study examined whether defensive responses differed when nesting birds were confronted with different human stimuli (‘pedestrian alone’ vs. ‘person pushing a lawn mower’ approaches to nests) and tested the effectiveness of a commonly used deterrent (mock eyes positioned on the top or back of a person’s head) on the defensive response. Masked Lapwings did not swoop closer to a person with a lawn mower compared with a pedestrian, but flushed closer and remained closer to the nest in the presence of a lawn mower. The presence of eye stickers decreased (pedestrians) and increased (lawn mowers) swooping behaviour. Masked Lapwings can discriminate between different human activities and adjust their defensive behaviour accordingly. We also conclude that the use of eye stickers is an effective method to mitigate the human-lapwing ‘conflict’ in some, but not all, circumstances

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