Wednesday, June 1, 2016

[Herpetology • 2016] Phylogeny and Diversification of Mountain Vipers (Montivipera, Nilson et al. 2001) triggered by multiple Plio-Pleistocene Refugia and High-Mountain Topography in the Near and Middle East


Fig. 2. Mitochondrial genealogy of mountain vipers (Montivipera). Bayesian 50% majority rule consensus tree of oriental mountain vipers (Montivipera), resulting from a partitioned analysis with three mt-genes (CYTB, COX1, ND5). Numbers identify nodes supported by Bayesian posterior probabilities and Maximum Likelihood Bootstrap values. Stars indicate nodes that are not supported by ML. Each drawing illustrates the typical mountain viper phenotypes of the corresponding haplo-group. Evolutionary lineages inhabiting lowland habitats are indicated by the green bar. All other haplo-groups are only known from high mountain areas.
 (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.04.025

Highlights
• We provide novel insights into the phylogeny of Montivipera and identify new cryptic taxa.
• Climatic oscillations during Plio–Pleistocene favoured genetic isolation and were drivers of allopatric speciation.
• Mountains have played a crucial role as filters for dispersal and as multiple refugia.
• We found high concordance between Montivipera haplotype distributions and plant refugia.

Abstract
The Near and Middle East is a hotspot of biodiversity, but the region remains underexplored at the level of genetic biodiversity. Here, we present an extensive molecular phylogeny of the viperid snake genus Montivipera, including all known taxa. Based on nuclear and mitochondrial data, we present novel insights into the phylogeny of the genus and review the status of its constituent species. Maximum likelihood methods revealed a montane origin of Montivipera at 12.3 Mya. We then analyzed factors of mountain viper diversity. Our data support substantial changes in effective population size through Plio–Pleistocene periods. We conclude that climatic oscillations were drivers of allopatric speciation, and that mountain systems of the Near and Middle East have strongly influenced the evolution and survival of taxa, because climatic and topographical heterogeneities induced by mountains have played a crucial role as filters for dispersal and as multiple refugia. The wide diversity of montane microhabitats enabled mountain vipers to retain their ecological niche during climatic pessima. In consequence the varied geological and topographical conditions between refugia favoured genetic isolation and created patterns of species richness resulting in the formation of neoendemic taxa. Our data support high concordance between geographic distributions of Montivipera haplotypes with putative plant refugia.

Keywords: Montivipera; Near East and Middle East; Phylogeny; Divergence times; Phylogeography; Allopatric speciation


Nikolaus Stümpel, Mehdi Rajabizadeh, Aziz Avcı, Wolfgang Wüster and Ulrich Joger. 2016.  Phylogeny and Diversification of Mountain Vipers (Montivipera, Nilson et al. 2001) triggered by multiple Plio-Pleistocene Refugia and High-Mountain Topography in the Near and Middle East. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.  101; 336–351. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2016.04.025

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