Phylogeography and postglacial colonization of Central Europe by Anguis fragilis and Anguis colchica

in Amphibia-Reptilia
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Five slow-worm species are distributed in the Palearctic region. Two species, Anguis fragilis and A. colchica, are native to Central Europe, where only limited information on the phylogeography of the genus exists. Here, we examined the situation in Poland and surrounding regions, where a mitochondrial contact zone between the species is expected. We used new mitochondrial DNA sequences and available published data from Central Europe and the northern Balkans. Haplotypes of both species were recorded in the study area. Anguis fragilis is represented by a single haplogroup, while A. colchica by three haplogroups. This suggests four independent sources/refugia for postglacial colonization of northern Central Europe. The mitochondrial contact zone seems to mirror the borders between lowlands of the North European Plain and East European Plain, and the south-eastern Poland uplands, while the Vistula River does not constitute a barrier. The presence of both species, A. fragilis and A. colchica, in Poland should also be considered for protection by the Polish conservation legislation.


Publication of the Societas Europaea Herpetologica


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  • Distribution of mitochondrial haplogroups and haplotype networks of Anguis fragilis and A. colchica in Central Europe based on new and published data (Gvoždík et al., 2010, 2013; Szabó and Vörös, 2014; Jablonski et al., 2016; terminology as well as colours of haplogroups follows the latter publication). The dashed orange line denotes approximate location of the mitochondrial contact zone between the species. Whitish transparent shading shows the distribution range of the genus. Question marks denote missing phylogeographic data. Small black dots in the haplotype networks represent unsampled or extinct haplotypes. Bold lines of haplotypes in the networks highlight haplotypes found in the present study (including outside Poland). For clear association of the found haplotypes to the previously published haplotypes (based on a longer mtDNA fragment), we list GenBank numbers and the original haplotype name: f1 – f3, f7, f12, f13 (A. fragilis) and c1 – c6, c12 (A. colchica); Gvoždík et al. (2010, 2013). “S” in the inset map indicates specimens identified based on the morphology (Skórzewski, 2017).

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