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Standfuss B.,Museum of Zoology Museum fur Tierkunde | Lipovsek G.,Herpetolosko drustvo Societas herpetologica slovenica | Fritz U.,Museum of Zoology Museum fur Tierkunde | Vamberger M.,Museum of Zoology Museum fur Tierkunde
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2016

Using samples of non-native pond sliders (Trachemys scripta) from three different climatic zones in Slovenia, we perform parentage analyses and use population genetic approaches to find out whether they successfully reproduce and are able to establish populations. Based on 14 highly polymorphic microsatellite loci, we provide evidence for successful reproduction and invasiveness of pond sliders not only for the Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean regions of Slovenia, but also for the central part of the country having a temperate continental climate. Our results suggest that the pond slider should be classified as an invasive species (introduced species spreading in a non-native region) for Slovenia and other European regions with similar climatic conditions. Since the negative impact of pond sliders is out of question for native European turtle species, we suggest the immediate removal of pond sliders from all habitats. Our study provides for the first time hard evidence for the capability of pond sliders to reproduce in Central Europe. Thus, it contributes to the understanding of the invasiveness of pond sliders in Europe and delivers an important foundation for decision-makers in conservation. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

Mebert K.,University of Basel | Jagar T.,Herpetolosko drustvo Societas herpetologica slovenica | Grzelj R.,Herpetolosko drustvo Societas herpetologica slovenica | Cafuta V.,Herpetolosko drustvo Societas herpetologica slovenica | And 7 more authors.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2015

Contact zones of closely related and ecologically similar species constitute rare opportunities to study the evolutionary consequences of past speciation processes. They represent natural laboratories in which strong competition could lead to the exclusion of one species, or the various species may switch into distinct ecological niches. Alternatively, if reproductive isolation has not yet been achieved, they may hybridize. We elucidate the degree of taxon integrity by comparing genetics and habitat use of three similar-sized congeneric viper species, Vipera ammodytes, Vipera aspis, and Vipera berus, of Nadiza Valley in western Slovenia. No hybridization was detected for either mitochondrial or nuclear genomes. Similarly, external intermediacy by a single prestudy viper (probably V. ammodytes × V. aspis) indicates that hybridization occasionally occurs, but should be very rare. Populations of the three related viperids are partially allopatric in Nadiza Valley, but they also coexist in a narrow contact zone in the montane grassland along the south-exposed slope of Mount Stol (1673 m a.s.l.). Here, the three species that occupy areas in or near patches of rocky microhabitats (e.g. stone piles, slides, and walls) live in syntopy. However, fine-scale measurements of structural components show partial habitat segregation, in which V. berus becomes more dominant at elevations above 1400 m and occupies mostly the mountain ridge and north-exposed slopes of Mount Stol, V. aspis occurs below 1300 m and is the only species to inhabit stoneless patches of grass and bushes around 1000 m and lower, and V. ammodytes occurs at all elevations up to 1500 m, but is restricted to a rocky microhabitat. We suggest that a high degree of microstructure divergence, slightly different environmental niches, and a generally favourable habitat for all three viper species, keep the pressure for mis-mating and hybridization low, although mechanisms such as reduced hybrid inferiority and temporal mating segregation cannot yet be excluded. © 2015 The Linnean Society of London.

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