Diversification in the mountains: Evolutionary history and molecular phylogeny of Anatolian rock lizards

Kafimola S., Azimi M., Saberi-Pirooz R., ILGAZ Ç., Kashani G. M., Kapli P., ...More

Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol.180, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 180
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ympev.2022.107675
  • Journal Name: Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Anatolia, Apathya, Middle Miocene Climate Transition, Molecular systematics, Orogeny, Zagros Mountains
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


© 2022Mountains play a key role in forming biodiversity by acting both as barriers to gene flow among populations and as corridors for the migration of populations adapted to the conditions prevailing at high elevations. The Anatolian and the Zagros Mountains are located in the Alpine-Himalayan belt. The formation of these mountains has influenced the distribution and isolation of the animal population since the late Cenozoic. Apathya is a genus of lacertid lizards distributed along these mountains with two species, i.e., Apathya cappadocica and Apathya yassujica. The taxonomy status of lineages within the genus is complicated. In this study, we tried to collect extensive samples from throughout the distribution range, especially within the Zagros Mountains. Also, we used five genetic markers, two mitochondrial (COI and Cyt b) and three nuclear (C-mos, NKTR, and MCIR), to resolve the phylogenetic relationships within the genus and explain several possible scenarios that shaped multiple genetic structures. The combination of results in the current study indicated eight well-support monophyletic lineages that separated to two main groups; group 1 including A. c. cappadocica, A. c. muhtari and A. c. wolteri, group 2 contains four regional clades Turkey, Urmia, Baneh and Ilam, and finally a single clade belonging to the species A. yassujica. In contrast to previous studies, Apathya cappadocica urmiana was divided into four clades and three clades were recognized within Iranian boundaries. The clades have dispersed from Anatolia to adjacent regions in the south of Anatolia and the western Zagros Mountains. According to the evidence generated in this study this clade is paraphyletic. Based on our assumption, orogeny activities and also climate fluctuations in Middle Miocene and Pleistocene have influenced to formation of lineages. In this study we revisit the taxonomy of the genus and demonstrate that the species diversity was substantially underestimated. Our findings suggest that each of the eight clades corresponding to subspecies and distinct geographic regions deserve to be promoted to species level.