A multimarker phylogeography of crested newts, Triturus cristatus superspecies, reveals cryptic species

B.M. Wielstra, B. Wielstra, A.B. Baird, J.W. Arntzen

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The crested newt Triturus cristatus superspecies is composed of five recognized species. One of these, T. karelinii sensu lato, comprises three geographically structured mitochondrial DNA lineages: ‘eastern’, ‘central’ and ‘western T. karelinii’. Genetic divergence among these lineages is comparable to that of recognized crested newt species, but morphologically they are indistinguishable. Here, we conduct a multimarker phylogeographical survey to explore the evolutionary independence of these mitochondrial DNA lineages and we include representatives of the other species to guide our interpretation of the results. All markers show distinct patterns when analyzed singly (as a phylogeny or haplotype network) and none of them sort haplotypes fully in line with species or mitochondrial DNA lineage. A multilocus approach (BAPS and *BEAST) on the other hand shows that not only the recognized species, but also the three mitochondrial DNA lineages represent discrete nuclear DNA gene pools. A mismatch is found in the northwest of Asiatic Turkey, where several populations identified as ‘central T. karelinii’ based on nuclear DNA possesses ‘western T. karelinii’ mitochondrial DNA. We invoke asymmetric mitochondrial DNA introgression to explain this pattern and support this with a historical biogeographical scenario. The three spatial groups in T. karelinii sensu lato should be regarded as distinct species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-175
JournalMolecular phylogenetics and evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • METIS-295792
  • IR-89736


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