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Zoologica Scripta
Vol. 46 (1), 2017, Pages:  12–26

Molecular data and ecological niche modelling reveal the evolutionary history of the common and Iberian moles (Talpidae) in Europe

Violaine Nicolas, Jessica Martínez-Vargas, Jean-Pierre Hugot

Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB UMR 7205 – CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France.


According to mitochondrial data, the common mole, Talpa europaea, is paraphyletic. This could be explained by either an ancient introgression of mtDNA from the Iberian blind mole T. occidentalisto T. europaea, or the existence of a differentiated taxonomic entity in northern Spain that needs to be described. In this study, we combined mitochondrial (Cytb) and nuclear (HDAC2) data to investigate these two alternative hypotheses. Based on both mitochondrial and nuclear data and an extensive geographical sampling (399 sequenced individuals), we show that the populations of T. europaea from Spain and south-western France (south of the Loire River) are phylogenetically closer to T. occidentalis than to T. europaea. The Spanish–French lineage has some morphological characters resembling more to T. occidentalis (e.g. eyes) and others resembling more to T. europaea (external measurements, mesostyle of the first upper molar). It also seems to have several distinctive dental characters, suggesting that it should be recognized as a new species. Within the three lineages, we found a marked phylogeographical pattern, with several allopatric or parapatric lineages, dating from the Pleistocene. Our genetic data combined with species distribution models support the presence of several putative glacial refugia during glacial maxima for each species.


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