Tracing glacial refugia of Triturus newts based on mitochondrial DNA phylogeography and species distribution modeling

B.M. Wielstra, J. Crnobrnja-Isailovic, S.N. Litvinchuk, B.T. Reijnen, A.K. Skidmore, K. Sotiropoulos, A.G. Toxopeus, N. Tzankov, T. Vukov, J.W. Arntzen

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85 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction The major climatic oscillations during the Quaternary Ice Age heavily influenced the distribution of species and left their mark on intraspecific genetic diversity. Past range shifts can be reconstructed with the aid of species distribution modeling and phylogeographical analyses. We test the responses of the different members of the genus Triturus (i.e. the marbled and crested newts) as the climate shifted from the previous glacial period (the Last Glacial Maximum, ~21 Ka) to the current interglacial. Results We present the results of a dense mitochondrial DNA phylogeography (visualizing genetic diversity within and divergence among populations) and species distribution modeling (using two different climate simulations) for the nine Triturus species on composite maps. Conclusions The combined use of species distribution modeling and mitochondrial phylogeography provides insight in the glacial contraction and postglacial expansion of Triturus. The combined use of the two independent techniques yields a more complete understanding of the historical biogeography of Triturus than both approaches would on their own. Triturus newts generally conform to the ‘southern richness and northern purity’ paradigm, but we also find more intricate patterns, such as the absence of genetic variation and suitable area at the Last Glacial Maximum (T. dobrogicus), an ‘extra-Mediterranean’ refugium in the Carpathian Basin (T. cristatus), and areas where species displaced one another postglacially (e.g. T. macedonicus and western T. karelinii). We provide a biogeographical scenario for Triturus, showing the positions of glacial refugia, the regions that were postglacially colonized and the areas where species displaced one another as they shifted their ranges
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Zoology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • crested newt
  • niche conservatism
  • climate-change
  • hybrid zone
  • gene flow
  • time
  • space
  • introgression
  • quaternary
  • evolution


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