Monday, 21 April 2014

Massive transoceanic gene flow in a freshwater turtle (Testudines: Geoemydidae: Mauremys rivulata) – via Herp Digest

Zoologica Scripta /Article first published online: 3 APR 201
  1. Melita Vamberger1,
  2. Heiko Stuckas1,
  3. Dinçer Ayaz2,
  4. Petros Lymberakis3,
  5. Pavel Široký4 and
  6. Uwe Fritz1,*

Author Information
  1. 1Museum of Zoology (Museum für Tierkunde), Senckenberg Dresden, Dresden, Germany
  2. 2Faculty of Science, Biology Department, Zoology Section, Ege University, Bornova, Izmir, Turkey
  3. 3Natural History Museum of Crete, University of Crete, Irakleio, Crete, Greece
  4. 4Department of Biology and Wildlife Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Hygiene and Ecology, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
Email: Melita Vamberger (, Heiko Stuckas (, Dinçer Ayaz (, Petros Lymberakis (, Pavel Široký (, Uwe Fritz (
*Corresponding author: Uwe Fritz, Museum of Zoology (Museum für Tierkunde), Senckenberg Dresden, A. B. Meyer Building, 01109 Dresden, Germany. E-mail:

The freshwater turtle Mauremys rivulata ranges from the Adriatic coast of the Balkan Peninsula through the Aegean region and coastal western and southern Turkey southwards to Israel. In addition, it occurs on several Aegean islands, Crete and Cyprus. Previous investigations using mtDNA sequences found virtually no genetic differentiation across its distribution range, despite some major biogeographical barriers for terrestrial and freshwater biota. Thus, the absence of any phylogeographical differentiation would be unexpected. To re-examine genetic differentiation within M. rivulata, here we use a comprehensive rangewide sampling and information of 13 unlinked polymorphic microsatellite loci and compare these data against mtDNA variation. Our microsatellite analyses reveal a weak population structuring which conflicts, however, with most biogeographical barriers. We conclude that the genetic structure in the vast majority of the species' range has been shaped by massive transoceanic gene flow. This explanation is unlikely for the northernmost populations, which seem rather to be genetically impacted by intentionally released foreign turtles.

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