Title

The Atlas Mountains, not the Strait of Gibraltar, as a Biogeographic Barrier for Mauremys leprosa (Reptilia: Testudines)

Abstract

Sequence data of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of stripe-necked terrapins (Mauremys leprosa) have been compared from localities north and south of the Atlas Mts . (Ceuta; Morocco) and from Donana National Park (Spain). A low maximum sequence divergence (approximately I %) corresponds to two major clades; one is re presented by localities to the north of the Atlas Mts. and in Dofiana National Park and the other by localities to the south of the Atlas Mts. Differentiation between populations north and south of the Atlas Mts. is much more pronounced than that found between samples from each side of the Strait of Gibraltar. These findings suggest that the Strait of Gibraltar is, in contrast to the Atlas Mts .. not a significant barrier to gene flow in s tripe -necked terrapins. The major c lades could reflect taxonomic segregation between populations north and south of the Atlas Mts . Sequences from Marrakech (corresponding to M. I. marokkensis), Ceuta, and the Donana National Park (M. Ieprosa) are only weakly differentiated. South of the Atlas Mts. we found no consistent differences between samples from catchment basins of the Oued Draa (M. I. vanmeerhaghei) and the Oued Noun (M. I. saharica). Our findings imply that taxonomic differentiation within M. leprosa is currently overestimated.

Disciplines

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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