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Morphological and genetic diversity of the Balearic lizard,Podarcis lilfordi(Gunther, 1874): Is it relevant to its conservation?

Perez-Cembranos, A, Perez-Mellado, V, Alemany, I, Bassitta, M, Terrasa, B, Picornell, A, Castro, JA, Brown, RP and Ramon, C (2020) Morphological and genetic diversity of the Balearic lizard,Podarcis lilfordi(Gunther, 1874): Is it relevant to its conservation? Diversity and Distributions, 26 (9). pp. 1122-1141. ISSN 1366-9516

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Aims: To characterize the genetic and morphological diversification of the endangered Balearic lizard Podarcis lilfordi and to assess the relevance of this diversity, and how it is described, to conservation measures.
Location: This study covers all the populations of the Balearic lizard, Podarcis lilfordi, present in its range of distribution at coastal islets of Menorca, Mallorca and Cabrera Archipelago.
Methods: We analysed genetic and morphological variation across the 43 known extant populations of the Balearic lizard, using mitochondrial and nuclear markers. We examined morphometric and scalation characters using, in some cases, phylogenetically independent contrasts. We also incorporated the study of dorsal coloration and dorsal colour pattern including the analysis of melanism in several populations.
Results: We detected clear genetic divergence between Menorcan populations and populations from Mallorca and Cabrera, in both nuclear and mtDNA markers, but genetic divergence is relatively low among different insular populations within these groups. In contrast, morphological divergence was substantial both between Menorcan and remaining populations and within these groups. Morphological traits, such as dorsal coloration, body size and the number and size of scales, seemed to be linked with differences in climatic conditions between populations. In addition, some traits, as melanism, showed a strong phylogenetic signal.
Main conclusions: The morphological and genetic diversity of the Balearic lizard is incongruent with the subspecies described in the classical taxonomic literature. Moreover, current populations differ not only in some genetic and morphological features, but also in several ecological and ethological characteristics, in many cases unique to one population. Based on our results, we propose abandoning the use of subspecies to describe the extraordinary morphological diversity of the Balearic lizard and its replacement with the concept of evolutionary significant units (ESUs). ESUs are particularly suitable to describe and recognize such diversity and, especially, to ensure the continuity of the evolutionary process.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 05 Environmental Sciences, 06 Biological Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2020 11:38
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 06:43
DOI or ID number: 10.1111/ddi.13107
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13599
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