Species boundaries in Malagasy snakes of the genus Madagascarophis (Serpentes: Colubridae sensu lato) assessed by nuclear and mitochondrial markers

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Abstract

We studied mitochondrial divergence in 27 individuals of colubrid snakes of the genus Madagascarophis Mertens from most of its distribution area in Madagascar. Combined analyses of 16S rRNA and cytochrome b sequences identified six major clades which only partly agreed with previously proposed classifications. Analysis of nuclear DNA sequences of the c-mos gene as well as of ISSR fingerprints revealed consistent differences only among three clades which we consider as distinct species: a widespread Madagascarophis colubrinus (Schlegel), with M. citrinus (Boettger) as a junior synonym, a southern M. meridionalis Domergue, and a presumably undescribed species from the extreme north of Madagascar. The species M. ocellatus Domergue was not available for our study. Within M. colubrinus there are two populations from the north-west, each showing two divergent haplotypes with pairwise divergences of up to 5.2% in the cytochrome b gene. Maximum divergence in this gene within M. colubrinus was 7.1%. These high values emphasise that caution needs to be applied before genetic distance values are used for species delimitation. Phylogeographically, most of the genetic variation in M. colubrinus is found in northern Madagascar, indicating that the species might have originated in this region. Later one haplotype clade colonised western and eastern Madagascar, with a putative secondary introgression into north-western populations. © 2007 Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik.

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Nagy, Z. T., Glaw, F., Andreone, F., Wink, M., & Vences, M. (2007). Species boundaries in Malagasy snakes of the genus Madagascarophis (Serpentes: Colubridae sensu lato) assessed by nuclear and mitochondrial markers. Organisms Diversity and Evolution, 7(3), 241–251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ode.2006.07.003

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