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A revised phylogeny of Alpine newts unravels the evolutionary distinctiveness of the Bosnian alpine newt ‒ Ichthyosaura alpestris reiseri (Werner, 1902)

journal contribution
posted on 28.10.2021, 13:15 by Emina Šunje, Belma Kalamujić Stroil, Jean Raffaëlli, Adnan Zimić, Olivier Marquis

The Bosnian alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris reiseri) is endemic to Prokoško Lake (Mt. Vranica, Bosnia & Herzegovina); its evolutionary history is partially clarified and its taxonomic position remains unclear. Due to severe anthropogenic pressures on Mt. Vranica (fish introduction in Prokoško Lake, pollution), it has been assumed that this form of Alpine newt is extinct from the Lake. Nevertheless, some specimens originating from Prokoško Lake are still maintained in captivity in two European zoos and by several private keepers. The main goals of the present study are: (1) to investigate the presence of Alpine newts in the Prokoško Lake and the wider area of Mt. Vranica, (2) to conduct phylogenetic analysis on found specimens of Alpine newts in relation to other Balkan populations. Newts were not registered inside Prokoško Lake but several individuals were found in water bodies surrounding the Lake. Genetic analysis shows that these individuals carry the same haplotype as Alpine newts from a captive population originating from Prokoško Lake. All the Alpine newts originating from mt. Vranica are monophyletic on mtDNA markers, hence form an Evolutionary Significant Unit within I. alpestris that is of specific conservation importance. Results corroborate previous findings concerning the complex pattern of genetic diversity of Alpine newt populations in the Balkans that is poorly understood.

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