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Elusive but widespread? The potential distribution and genetic variation of Hyalosaurus koellikeri (Günther, 1873) in the Maghreb

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The genetic variability and the potential distribution under past (Last Glacial Maximum; LGM (MIROC and CCSM simulations)) and present conditions were studied for the anguid Hyalosaurus koellikeri, using analyses of two mitochondrial (ND1 and ND2) and one nuclear (PRLR) gene and species distribution modelling (SDM) including 19 geographical coordinates, covering most of its distribution range. Unexpectedly, the genetic results show that H. koellikeri presents a very low level of variability both in the mitochondrial and nuclear genes studied. The present predicted distribution of H. koellikeri revealed a large potential distribution in both north and eastwards directions, with suitable areas predicted in places where the species has never been reported before, as for instance the Rif Mountains in Morocco, as well as into most parts of northern Algeria and Tunisia. The LGM distribution is even larger compared to the present, with a continuous predicted distribution from Morocco to Tunisia, and even into Libya under the MIROC simulation. The results of the genetic and SDM analyses suggest that the now isolated populations from Debdou and Tlemcen have probably been in contact during the LGM, but its absence from both present and past predicted suitable areas is still a mystery. Hyalosaurus koellikeri depends mainly on closed deciduous forests (typically Cedrus atlantica and Quercus sp.) and open deciduous shrubland with high amounts of annual rainfall. The results of this study and the absence of recent sightings of the species outside the core distribution might indicate a regression of the species. Hence, a reevaluation of the conservation status of the species seems warranted.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF), Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK, Society for the Preservation of Herpetological Diversity, Oude Molstraat 2E, 2513 BB Den Haag, The Netherlands; 2: Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF), Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; 3: Institut d'Ecologia Aquàtica, Universitat de Girona, Campus Montivili, 17071 Girona, Spain; 4: Department of Animal Biology, University of Barcelona, 08028 Barcelona, Spain; 5: Calle Mar Egeo 7, 11407 Jerez de la Frontera, Cadiz, Spain; 6: Departamento de Biología Animal, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain; 7: Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF), Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta 37-49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain;, Email: salvador.carranza@ibe.upf-csic.es

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/content/journals/10.1163/017353711x587732
2011-08-01
2016-12-09

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