Brito JC , Santos X, Pleguezuelos JM, Sillero N 


The present study aimed to infer evolutionary scenarios for Vipera latastei and Vipera monticola in the Iberian Peninsula and the Maghreb through the identification of spatial patterns in morphological character variation and biogeographic patterns in morphological variability distribution. Ten morphological traits from 630 vipers were analysed with geostatistic and ecological niche modelling in a geographical information system. Interpolation by Kriging was used to generate surfaces of morphological variation, which were combined with spatial principal components analysis (SPCA). Putative morphological differentiated groups generated by SPCA maps were tested with discriminant function analysis (DFA). Maximum entropy modelling and nine environmental variables were used to identify factors limiting the distribution of groups and areas for their potential occurrence. Groups supported by DFA were: Western Iberia, Eastern Iberia, Rif plus Middle Atlas, Algeria, and High Atlas. Their distribution is influenced by common environmental factors such as precipitation. Areas of probable sympatry between Iberian groups matched the morphological clines observed by geostatistics tools. Geographic variation patterns in V. latastei-monticola are probably due to vicariant separation of Iberian and African populations during the opening of the Strait of Gibraltar, and population refugia during the Quaternary glaciations with secondary contact. The taxonomic status of northern Morocco and Algerian groups should be further investigated. We conclude that geostatistics and niche-modelling tools are adequate to infer morphological variability across wide geographic ranges of species.


Journal:  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8312.2008.01071.x