Phylogeography of Dolichophis Populations in the Aegean Region (Squamata: Colubridae) with Taxonomic Remarks

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Javorčík A., Strachinis I., Thanou E., Kornilios P., Avcı A., Üzüm N., ...More

Diversity, vol.16, no.3, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/d16030184
  • Journal Name: Diversity
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Geobase, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Coluber, Colubridae, distribution, DNA barcoding, phylogeography, subspecies, taxonomy
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


In this study, we investigate the phylogeographic patterns of Dolichophis species in the Aegean region, aiming to elucidate their genetic diversity and putative historical colonisation routes through mitochondrial and nuclear DNA data. Our findings revealed distinct phylogeographic patterns: D. caspius exhibited a higher level of haplotypes within two shallow mitochondrial lineages, contrasting with D. jugularis, which displayed lower genetic variability in the area. Additionally, we identified evidence showing possible human-mediated historical translocation of D. caspius populations to Karpathos from the Balkans mainland. The mitochondrial variability in D. jugularis remained relatively uniform across southwestern Anatolia and Dodecanese, except for Rhodes Island. The evidence from mitochondrial and nuclear data confirming the previously described morphological differentiation of the Rhodes snakes, and thus the name D. j. zinneri Cattaneo, 2012, described on the island, could be applied to this isolated population. This result addresses the first genetic view on the long-standing taxonomic uncertainties regarding the subspecies status of Rhodes D. jugularis. Our results also raise questions regarding possible historical hybridisations between D. caspius and D. jugularis in the Dodecanese islands, prompting the need for further investigation using extensive field studies and genomic approaches. Ultimately, the Aegean islands, particularly Kos and Rhodes, seem to be important sites for the evolution of these colubrid snakes and their historical dynamics.