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Biology and origin of isolated north-easternmost populations of the common wall lizard, Podarcis muralis

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journal contribution
posted on 11.05.2020 by Krzysztof Kolenda, Tomasz Skawiński, Tomasz Majtyka, Monika Majtyka, Natalia Kuśmierek, Agata Starzecka, Daniel Jablonski
The common wall lizard, Podarcis muralis, is a widely distributed European lizard which has been often introduced across the continent, including north of the continuous species range. Three such populations were recently discovered in the Strzelin Hills in Poland, but no information is available about their origin. We studied the morphological variation, demographic structure and ecology of these populations, as well as their possible origin based on cytochrome b mtDNA sequences. Between 2011 and 2019, the lizards were annually active from the first half of March to mid-October. Males attained significantly larger snout-vent length than females and had relatively larger heads. Almost half of all captured individuals exhibited at least one pileus scale anomaly. Analysis of colour polymorphism revealed the occurrence of three morphs: white, white-red and red. The oldest lizards reached the age of 8 years. These parameters of Polish populations do not deviate from those of other populations from similar latitudes. Molecular analysis revealed that they belong to the most common haplotype of Central European haplogroup I of the Central Balkan clade. This haplotype is widely distributed across the Czech Republic and Slovakia; however, genetic data do not allow determination of the exact origin of the Polish population. Human-mediated introduction from the closest localities, the Czech Republic or Slovakia, is probable but the relict status cannot at present be excluded.