The distribution and biogeography of slow worms (Anguis, Squamata) across the Western Palearctic, with an emphasis on secondary contact zones

In: Amphibia-Reptilia
Authors: Daniel Jablonski, Neftalí Sillero, Oleksandra Oskyrko, Adriana Bellati4, Andris Čeirāns, Marc Cheylan, Dan Cogălniceanu, Jelka Crnobrnja-Isailović,9, Pierre-André Crochet10, Angelica Crottini, Igor Doronin, Georg Džukić9, Philippe Geniez6, Çetin Ilgaz13,14, Ruben Iosif7, David Jandzik1, Dušan Jelić, Spartak Litvinchuk, Katarina Ljubisavljević, Petros Lymberakis, Peter Mikulíček, Edvárd Mizsei18, Jiří Moravec, Bartłomiej Najbar, Maciej Pabijan, Mihails Pupins, Patricia Sourrouille10, Ilias Strachinis, Márton Szabolcs, Evanthia Thanou, Elias Tzoras25, Vladislav Vergilov, Judit Vörös, and Václav Gvoždík,28
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  • 1 Department of Zoology, Comenius University in Bratislava, Ilkovičova 6, Mlynská dolina, 842 15 Bratislava, Slovakia
  • | 2 CICGE Centro de Investigação em Ciências Geo-Espaciais, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto (FCUP), Alameda do Monte da Virgem, 4430-146, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
  • | 3 Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Viničná 7, 128 44 Prague, Czech Republic
  • | 4 Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences, Tuscia University, Largo dell’università snc, 01100 Viterbo, Italy
  • | 5 Daugavpils University, Department of Ecology, Daugavpils, Latvia
  • | 6 CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE-PSL University, IRD, Biogeography and Ecology of Vertebrates, Montpellier, France
  • | 7 University Ovidius Constanţa, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Agricultural Sciences, Al. Universităţii 1, 900470 Constanţa, Romania
  • | 8 Department of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences and Mathematics, University of Niš, Višegradska 33, 18000 Niš, Serbia
  • | 9 Department of Evolutionary Biology, Institute for Biological Research “Siniša Stanković” – National Institute of Republic of Serbia, University of Belgrade, Despota Stefana 142, 11060 Belgrade, Serbia
  • | 10 CEFE, CNRS, Univ Montpellier, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France
  • | 11 CIBIO, Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, InBIO, Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, Rua Padre Armando Quintas, No 7, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
  • | 12 Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Universitetskaya Emb. 1, 199034 Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • | 13 Dokuz Eylül University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biology, Buca-İzmir, Turkey
  • | 14 Dokuz Eylül University, Fauna and Flora Research Centre, 35610, Buca-İzmir, Turkey
  • | 15 Croatian Institute for Biodiversity, BIOTA Ltd, Zagreb, Croatia
  • | 16 Institute of Cytology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Tikhoretsky pr. 4, 194064 Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • | 17 Natural History Museum of Crete, School of Sciences and Engineering, University of Crete, Knossos Ave. 71409 Irakleio, Greece
  • | 18 Department of Ecology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary
  • | 19 National Museum, Department of Zoology, Prague, Czech Republic
  • | 20 University of Zielona Góra, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Department of Zoology, Prof. Z. Szafrana 1, 65-616, Zielona Góra, Poland
  • | 21 Institute of Zoology and Biomedical Research, Jagiellonian University, ul. Gronostajowa 9, 30-387, Kraków, Poland
  • | 22 Department of Genetics, Development and Molecular Biology, School of Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
  • | 23 Department of Tisza River Research, Institute of Aquatic Ecology, Centre for Ecological Research, Bem tér 18/C, 4026, Debrecen, Hungary
  • | 24 Section of Animal Biology, Department of Biology, School of Natural Sciences, University of Patras, Rion University Campus, GR-26500 Patras, Greece
  • | 25 Patras, 26442 Achaia, Greece
  • | 26 National Museum of Natural History at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 1 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • | 27 Department of Zoology, Hungarian Natural History Museum, Baross u. 13., 1088, Budapest, Hungary
  • | 28 Institute of Vertebrate Biology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic
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The slow-worm lizards (Anguis) comprise five species occurring throughout most of the Western Palearctic. Although these species are relatively uniform morphologically – with the exception of A. cephallonica, which exhibits a quite unique morphology – they are genetically deeply divergent. Here, we provide detailed distribution maps for each species and discuss their biogeography and conservation based on updated genetic data and a robust distribution database. We pay particular attention to the so called ‘grey zone’, which typically represents secondary contact zones and in some cases confirmed or presumed hybrid zones. Four of the five species live in parapatry, while only two species, A. cephallonica and A. graeca from the southern Balkans occur in partial sympatry. Further research should focus on the eco-evolutionary interactions between species in contact, including their hybridization rates, to reveal deeper details of the slow-worm evolutionary and natural history.

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