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Phylogeography and postglacial colonization of Central Europe by Anguis fragilis and Anguis colchica

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Five slow-worm species are distributed in the Palearctic region. Two species, Anguis fragilis and A. colchica, are native to Central Europe, where only limited information on the phylogeography of the genus exists. Here, we examined the situation in Poland and surrounding regions, where a mitochondrial contact zone between the species is expected. We used new mitochondrial DNA sequences and available published data from Central Europe and the northern Balkans. Haplotypes of both species were recorded in the study area. Anguis fragilis is represented by a single haplogroup, while A. colchica by three haplogroups. This suggests four independent sources/refugia for postglacial colonization of northern Central Europe. The mitochondrial contact zone seems to mirror the borders between lowlands of the North European Plain and East European Plain, and the south-eastern Poland uplands, while the Vistula River does not constitute a barrier. The presence of both species, A. fragilis and A. colchica, in Poland should also be considered for protection by the Polish conservation legislation.

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Zoology, Comenius University in Bratislava, Mlynská dolina, Ilkovičova 6, 842 15 Bratislava, Slovakia ; 2: 2Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Zielona Góra, Prof. Z. Szafrana 1, 65-516 Zielona Góra, Poland ; 3: 3Department of Biochemistry and Bioinformatics, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Zielona Góra, Prof. Z. Szafrana 1, 65-001 Zielona Góra, Poland ; 4: 4Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences, 603 65 Brno, Czech Republic ; 5: 5Department of Zoology, National Museum, 193 00 Prague, Czech Republic ; 6: 6Faculty of Biology and Animal Science, Department of Genetics, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Kożuchowska 7, 51-631 Wrocław, Poland

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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