Vipera seoanei (Lataste, 1879) is an Euro-Siberian species restricted mostly to mountain ranges of northern Iberia. It probably diverged from its sister species (V. berus) in the late Pliocene and populations were subject to the Quaternary climatic oscillations. However, information about genetic variability and structuring is unavailable and its evolutionary scenario and intraspecific systematics were inferred by morphological variability only. The species is considered least concern (LC) in the IUCN red list, but southern populations are isolated and particularly vulnerable to habitat and climate changes. Also, it was recently considered an endangered reptiles by climate change in Iberia and it was forecasted a complete loss of suitable habitats already in 2020.
This project aims to identify genetic relationships among populations of V. seoanei by sequencing mitochondrial and nuclear genes from tissue samples covering its entire distributional range. An integrative taxonomic protocol will be used to: i) review the systematics of V. seoanei; ii) infer its evolutionary history, and iii) delineate lineage boundaries. Genetic relationships will also be integrated in a GIS environment and contrasted with ongoing studies of geographic morphological variation and ecological niche requirements. Such integration is expected to allow evaluating vulnerability and predicting differential responses of V. seoanei populations to climate change.
Funding agency: Systematic Research Fund
Budget: 1 500€
Project Code: SRF 2011-2012
Principal investigator: F Martínez-Freiría