Lucati, F., Poignet, M., Miro, A. et al.. (2020) Multiple glacial refugia and contemporary dispersal shape the genetic structure of an endemic amphibian from the Pyrenees.
Historical factors (colonization scenarios, demographic oscillations) and contemporary processes (population connectivity, current population size) largely contribute to shaping species’ present-day genetic diversity and structure. In this study, we use a combination of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA markers to understand the role of Quaternary climatic oscillations and present-day gene flow dynamics in determining the genetic diversity and structure of the newt Calotriton asper (Al. Dugès, 1852), endemic to the Pyrenees. Mitochondrial DNA did not show a clear phylogeographic pattern and presented low levels of variation. In contrast, microsatellites revealed five major genetic lineages with admixture patterns at their boundaries. Approximate Bayesian computation analyses and linear models indicated that the five lineages likely underwent separate evolutionary histories and can be tracked back to distinct glacial refugia. Lineage differentiation started around the Last Glacial Maximum at three focal areas (western, central and eastern Pyrenees) and extended through the end of the Last Glacial Period in the central Pyrenees, where it led to the formation of two more lineages. Our data revealed no evidence of recent dispersal between lineages, whereas borders likely represent zones of secondary contact following expansion from multiple refugia. Finally, we did not find genetic evidence of sex-biased dispersal. This work highlights the importance of integrating past evolutionary processes and present-day gene flow and dispersal dynamics, together with multilocus approaches, to gain insights into what shaped the current genetic attributes of amphibians living in montane habitats.