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Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species

Kindler, Carolin and Chevre, Maxime and Ursenbacher, Sylvain and Boehme, Wolfgang and Hille, Axel and Jablonski, Daniel and Vamberger, Melita and Fritz, Uwe. (2017) Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species. Scientific Reports, 7. p. 7378.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/60824/

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Abstract

Recent studies found major conflicts between traditional taxonomy and genetic differentiation of grass snakes and identified previously unknown secondary contact zones. Until now, little is known about gene flow across these contact zones. Using two mitochondrial markers and 13 microsatellite loci, we examined two contact zones. One, largely corresponding to the Rhine region, involves the western subspecies Natrix natrix helvetica and the eastern subspecies N. n. natrix, whereas in the other, more easterly, contact zone two lineages meet that are currently identified with N. n. natrix and N. n. persa. This second contact zone runs across Central Europe to the southern Balkans. Our analyses reveal that the western contact zone is narrow, with parapatrically distributed mitochondrial lineages and limited, largely unidirectional nuclear gene flow. In contrast, the eastern contact zone is very wide, with massive nuclear admixture and broadly overlapping mitochondrial lineages. In combination with additional lines of evidence (morphology, phylogeny, divergence times), we conclude that these differences reflect different stages in the speciation process and that Natrix helvetica should be regarded as a distinct species. We suggest a nomenclatural framework for presently recognized grass snake taxa and highlight the need for reconciling the conflicts between genetics and taxonomy.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science
05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Integrative Biologie > Naturschutzbiologie (Baur)
UniBasel Contributors:Ursenbacher, Sylvain
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
e-ISSN:2045-2322
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Identification Number:
Last Modified:27 Apr 2020 12:20
Deposited On:27 Apr 2020 12:20

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