Gvozdik V.,Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic |
Jandzik D.,Comenius University |
Jandzik D.,University of Colorado at Boulder |
Cordos B.,Gabor Aron 16 |
And 2 more authors.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution | Year: 2012
The last two populations of the Hungarian meadow viper Vipera ursinii rakosiensis were thought to persist in the steppe fragments of Hungary until meadow vipers were discovered in central Romania (Transylvania), suggesting a possible existence of remnant populations elsewhere. We assessed the phylogenetic position of the Transylvanian vipers using 2030. bp of mitochondrial DNA sequence. We showed that they were closely related to the Hungarian vipers, while those from northeastern Romania (Moldavia) and Danube Delta belonged to the subspecies Vipera ursinii moldavica. Montane subspecies from Europe (Vipera ursinii ursinii and Vipera ursinii macrops) formed a sister clade to the two lowland subspecies. Vipera renardi formed a sister clade to V. ursinii, with populations from the Greater Caucasus (Vipera renardi lotievi) and Tien Shan (Vipera renardi tienshanica) as the sister group to Vipera renardi renardi, and Vipera renardi eriwanensis from the Lesser Caucasus as the most basal taxon in the species. Our results illustrate that the divergence between the lowland and montane populations occurred separately in each species and several times in V. renardi. We demonstrated that the recently discovered Transylvanian population is the third surviving population of V. u. rakosiensis and the only known population outside of Hungary. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.