This work aims to deepen the knowledge about the biogeographic history of Salamandra algira and the ecological factors that could explain the origin of viviparity in populations of northern Tingitana peninsula. A previous genetic study in this species has identified the presence of three lineages in Morocco that correspond to the three known subspecies, and also show the separation of three sub-lineages within S. a. tingitana, one of them grouping the populations considered viviparous, north of Oued Martil. However, the small number of samples used (only 5 samples of viviparous populations north of Oued Martil) and the genetic information obtained (only 694 bp from mtDNA) limits the ability to resolve the evolutionary history of this species, to delimit the ranges of lineages found, and to assess the level of historical and contemporary gene flow. The later would help assessing the degree of isolation of the viviparous populations. The previous work did not modelled the subspecies S. s. spelaea and S. a. splendens, restricting the analysis of niche divergence between viviparous and ovoviviparous sublineages in S. a. tingitana.
The specific objectives of the study are to:
- review the distribution of Salamandra algira in Ceuta and Morocco and increase the number of samples and locations used in previous studies.
- analyze phylogenetic relationships among described subspecies of S. algira using mitochondrial genetic markers.
- model the distribution of each subspecies to evaluate possible differences in the ecological niche and to re-evaluate the possible existence of geological and climatic differences between viviparous and ovoviviparous sublineages in S. a. tingitana.
- analyze the distribution of genetic diversity within the species and compare the values of genetic diversity and population sizes between different subspecies described using microsatellite markers that have been optimized for this species.
- study the degree of contemporary genetic structuring within the species and assess the existence and direction of gene flow between different lineages and between viviparous and ovoviviparous populations of S. a. tingitana using microsatellite markers. This objective will be partially financed with the aid requested.
- combine spatial and genetic information to determine possible geographical or ecological barriers between different lineages present in S. algira.
Funding agency: Instituto de Estudios Ceutíes
Budget: 4 000€
Project Code: IEC 2015
Principal investigator: G Velo-Antón