Turkish Journal of Zoology




Ablepharus Lichtenstein, 1823, which includes ten species, is distributed in eastern Europe and Asia. Four species are recorded in Turkey: A. kitaibelii, A. chernovi, A. bivittatus, and A. budaki. After molecular and morphological studies in Anatolia, the phylogenetic relationship of the genus is still very complicated. Here, we investigate the taxonomic status of Ablepharus in Anatolia using morphological and molecular methods. The genetic structure of Ablepharus populations in Anatolia was analyzed using both the nuclear (CMOS) and mitochondrial (cyt b and COI) gene regions. The maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference methods were applied for phylogenetic tree reconstruction, together with calculation of p-distances and reconstruction of haplotype networks. The morphological analysis was evaluated with SPSS by using 12 metric and 17 meristic characteristics. In total, 41 specimens and 279 specimens were used for the molecular and morphological analysis, respectively. A. bivittatus has highly different genetic and morphological characteristics compared to the others, and it shares similar morphological characteristics with the genus Asymblepharus, which are elliptical tympanum, hidden upper eye opening under 3 or 4 large shields, light and dark longitudinal stripes on the back, adpressed hind-limbs reaching to knees, and well-developed limbs with five toes. For this reason, A. bivittatus was placed in the genus Asymblepharus as Asymblepharus bivittatus comb. nov. A. budaki anatolicus was elevated to species level as A. anatolicus based on morphological and genetic data. In this study, Anatolian A. kitaibelii comprised two sister subclades, A. kitaibelii kitaibelii and A. kitaibelii stepaneki, and this research is the first record of A. kitaibelii stepaneki in Turkey. A. chernovi was divided into three subclades: A. chernovi chernovi, A. chernovi eiselti, and A. chernovi isaurensis.


Skinks, Turkey, Asymblepharus, pholidosis, phylogeny

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