Who are you? The genetic identity of some insular populations of Hierophis viridiflavus s.l. from the Tyrrhenian Sea

Ignazio Avella, Riccardo Castiglia, Gabriele Senczuk

Abstract


This work investigates the genetic identity of Hierophis viridiflavus s.l. specimens from insular populations, to determine which of the two previously identified species is present on each island. Here, the authors hypothesise about times and modes of colonization and discuss the faunistic value of the obtained results. This follows the recent proposal to consider the two clades as two different species. Specimens from the islands of Favignana, Lipari and Vulcano belong to H. carbonarius and probably all belong to putative Sicilian source populations. Conversely, all individuals from the Pontine Islands (Ponza, Palmarola, Ventotene) should be considered to belong to H. viridiflavus. Even if genetically identical to the specimens from the Tyrrhenian Italian coast, these individuals show a darker colouration, very similar to the one usually shown by H. carbonarius specimens. Considering that the Pontine H. viridiflavus populations probably have a very recent origin, the dark livery of these individuals could be the result of a rapid morphological adaptation to insular environments.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Acta_Herpetol-20283




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