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Taxonomic status of Triturus vittatus (Amphibia: Salamandridae) in western Turkey: trunk vertebrae count, genome size and allozyme data

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The banded newt, Triturus vittatus is suggested to consist of two species (T. ophryticus and T. vittatus). The northern taxon, T. ophryticus, is subdivided into two geographic fragments: the "western group" of populations from western Anatolian Turkey, and the "eastern group" distributed in the remaining part of the Pontic Turkey and western Caucasus. The western samples are characterized by a peculiar combination of various features. In this group the modal number of trunk vertebrae is equal to 12, like in T. v. vittatus and T. v. cilicensis, whereas the eastern group of T. ophryticus has 13 vertebrae. The amount of DNA per diploid nucleus, determined by flow cytometry, is higher in the western group (66.8-68.8 pg vs. 62.5-63.7 pg in the eastern group). Significant differences between both groups of T. ophryticus were revealed in allozymes (DNei'72 = 0.383 in average) as well. We allocate the western group of T. ophryticus to a separate subspecies, Triturus ophryticus nesterovi, subsp. nov. A paleogeographic scenario for T. vittatus and other newts is proposed. The taxonomic structure of the paraphyletic genus Triturus is discussed. We proposed to split the genus in four monophyletic genera Triturus sensu stricto, Lophinus, Mesotriton and Ommatotriton.


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