Mitochondrial DNA reveals the genealogical history of the snake-eyed lizards (Ophisops elegans and O. occidentalis) (Sauria: Lacertidae)

TitleMitochondrial DNA reveals the genealogical history of the snake-eyed lizards (Ophisops elegans and O. occidentalis) (Sauria: Lacertidae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsKyriazi, P, Poulakakis N, Parmakelis A, Crochet PA, Moravec J, Rastegar-Pouyani N, Tsigenopoulos CS, Magoulas A, Mylonas M, Lymberakis P
JournalMol Phylogenet Evol
Keywords*Evolution, Molecular, *Phylogeny, Animals, Bayes Theorem, Cytochromes b/genetics, DNA, Mitochondrial/*genetics, Electron Transport Complex IV/genetics, Genes, Mitochondrial, Genes, rRNA, Genetic Speciation, Geography, Likelihood Functions, Lizards/classification/*genetics, Mitochondria/genetics, Models, Genetic, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S, Sequence Alignment, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Statistics, Nonparametric

The snake-eyed lizards of the genus Ophisops (Lacertidae) have been through a series of taxonomical revisions, but still their phylogenetic relationships remain uncertain. In the present study we estimate the phylogeographic structure of O. elegans across its distributional range and we evaluate the relationships between O. elegans and the sympatric, in North Africa, species O. occidentalis, using partial mtDNA sequences (16S rRNA, COI, and cyt b). All phylogenetic analyses produced topologically identical trees where extant populations of O. elegans and O. occidentalis were found polyphyletic. Taking into account all the potential causes of polyphyly (introgressive hybridization, incomplete lineage sorting, and imperfect taxonomy) we suggest the inaccurate taxonomy as the most likely explanation for the observed pattern. Our results stress the need for re-evaluation of the current taxonomical status of these species and their subspecies. Furthermore, our biogeographic analyses and the estimated time of divergences suggest a late Miocene diversification within these species, where the present distribution of O. elegans and O. occidentalis was the result of several dispersal and vicariant events, which are associated with climatic oscillations (the late Miocene aridification of Asia and northern Africa) and paleogeographic barriers of late Miocene and Pliocene period.


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