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Genetic diversity in the gecko Tarentola mauritanica within the Iberian Peninsula

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

The Mediterranean gecko Tarentola mauritanica is one of the most abundant reptile species in the western Mediterranean Basin. We use mitochondrial DNA sequences, 12sRNA and 16sRNA, to analyse the patterns of distribution in the Iberian Peninsula. The results show three well defined lineages. The first one, already known to be widespread throughout Europe, is distributed along the eastern coast and southern areas of the Iberian Peninsula. The second one, endemic to the Iberian Peninsula, is widely found in central regions; and the third lineage, found so far only in two southern localities is unrelated to the other Iberian lineages, but rather to a Northern Moroccan clade. The genetic variability found within the Iberian haplogroup and the existence of a single haplotype within the European lineage suggests a complex pattern of rapid radiations and anthropogenic introductions. The third clade seems to be the result of a natural colonization from North Africa. All the data indicate that T. mauritanica is a species complex. The Iberian Peninsula, due to its geological complex history, appears to be both a hotspot and a melting pot of biodiversity, with several studies of diverse herpetofauna indicating that cryptic species occur there. More studies of additional species will be needed to develop a comparative phylogeographic framework for the region.

Affiliations: 1: CIBIO-UP, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485661 Vairão, Portugal; 2: CIBIO-UP, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485661 Vairão, Portugal; Departamento de Zoologia e Antropologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, 4099-002 Porto, Portugal


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