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Evolutionary and paleogeographical effects on the distribution of the Triturus cristatus superspecies in the central Balkans

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A synthesis of all known data on the crested newt group assigns the Balkan peninsula as the center of origin or, at least, the area where the basic lineage of its species was limited in the late Miocene. According to the recent literature, the geological structure of the Balkan region changed considerably during the Tertiary. These geological processes could have had a considerable impact on crested newt divergence and on the recent distribution of species. Using the number of rib-bearing vertebrae (RBVN), recently suggested as a simple and powerful tool for distinguishing four taxa of the T cristatus superspecies, we analysed 36 population samples collected all over former Yugoslavia. The hypothesised recent distribution of the crested newt species, based on frequency distribution of RBVN, appears to correspond well to neotectonic events in the past.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Evolutionary Biology, Institute for Biological Research, 29. Novembra 142, 11000 Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia; 2: Institute of Radiology and Radiological Hygiene, Faculty for Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade, 11000 Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia; 3: Institute of Zoology, Faculty of Biology, Studentski trg 3, 11000 Belgrade, FR Yugoslavia


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