Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 433–451 | Cite as

Phylogeographic patterns of genetic diversity in the common spadefoot toad, Pelobates fuscus (Anura: Pelobatidae), reveals evolutionary history, postglacial range expansion and secondary contact

  • Spartak N. LitvinchukEmail author
  • Angelica Crottini
  • Silvia Federici
  • Philip De Pous
  • David Donaire
  • Franco Andreone
  • Miloš L. Kalezić
  • Georg Džukić
  • Georgy A. Lada
  • Leo J. Borkin
  • Jury M. Rosanov
Original Article


Based on allozyme variation of 410 newly collected individuals from 52 localities, we reconstructed range-wide phylogeography of the widespread Western Palearctic anuran, Pelobates fuscus. To study genetic diversity, evolutionary history, postglacial range expansion and secondary contact zones, we used a multidisciplinary approach combining information from various genetic analyses and ecological niche modeling. We confirmed the presence of two main groups in P. fuscus, initially revealed by genome size variation. Pelobates f. vespertinus presents a monomorphic group, but two main groups can be identified in P. f. fuscus: an East European and a West European group. We suggest the existence of at least four different Last Glacial refugia for P. fuscus: (1) the area between the Caspian and Azov Seas as the origin for the expansion of P. f. vespertinus; (2) the northwestern part of the Black Sea area for the East European P. f. fuscus; (3) the southwestern part of the Pannonian Plain and (4) the Po Plain for the West European P. f. fuscus. The routes of postglacial range expansions from the refugia are discussed. We newly identified a hybrid zone between P. f. fuscus and P. f. vespertinus. The width of this zone is about 12.5 km. In light of these findings, the two subspecies of P. fuscus constitute distinct evolutionary lineages and merit recognition as separate species. Our data do not provide support for the validity of P.f. insubricus. We therefore propose to synonymize this subspecies with P. f. fuscus.


Allozymes Ecological niche model Genome size Glacial refugium Hybridization Pelobates vespertinus Pelobates fuscus insubricus 



The following persons contributed greatly to some part of the process of this study, during the fieldtrips, laboratory analyses, or reading the manuscript and providing helpful improvements: O. S. Bezman-Moseiko, M. N. Brynskikh, A. Yu. Guseva, O. I. Evstigneev, A. I. Fayzulin, V. P. Foroshchuk, V. P. Ivanchev, N. A. Karpov, V. I. Kazakov, M. D. Khalturin, I. M. Kotserzhinskaya, O. V. Kukushkin, N. F. Marchenko, L. F. Mazanaeva, G. A. Mazepa, K. D. Milto, R. V. Novitsky, M. V. Pestov, J. Plötner, A. V. Ruchin, D. A. Shabanov, A. S. Shapovalov, D. V. Skorinov, S. Yu. Trofimov, M. Veith, A. A. Vlasov, B. Wielstra, and A. I. Zobov. The work was partially funded by grants from the Russian Foundation of Basic Research (project nos. 12-04-01277 and 13-04-90410) and the Serbian Ministry of Education and Science and Technological Development (project no. 173043). PdP was funded by the FI program (Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain) and a grant from the Societas Europaea Herpetologica (2010). Fieldwork in Italy in 2008 was conducted under permit decision DPN-2008-0011754 of 12/05/2008 issued to AC and FA and in Morocco in 2008 and 2009 under permit decision 84°HCEFLCD/DLCDPN/DPRN/CFF issued by Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts et à la Lutte Contre la Désertification to PdP and DD. The work of AC was supported by a postdoctoral grant from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (SFRH/BPD/72908/2010).

Supplementary material

13127_2013_127_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (565 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 565 kb)


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Spartak N. Litvinchuk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angelica Crottini
    • 2
  • Silvia Federici
    • 3
  • Philip De Pous
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • David Donaire
    • 7
  • Franco Andreone
    • 8
  • Miloš L. Kalezić
    • 9
  • Georg Džukić
    • 10
  • Georgy A. Lada
    • 11
  • Leo J. Borkin
    • 12
  • Jury M. Rosanov
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Cytology of Russian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos GenéticosVairãoPortugal
  3. 3.ZooPlantLab, Dipartimento di Biotecnologie e BioscienzeUniversitá degli Studi di Milano-BicoccaMilanoItaly
  4. 4.Escola Tècnica Superior Enginyeria Agrària, Departament Producció Animal (Fauna Silvestre)University of LleidaLleidaSpain
  5. 5.Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF)BarcelonaSpain
  6. 6.Society for the Preservation of Herpetological DiversityDen HaagThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Jerez de la FronteraSpain
  8. 8.Museo Regionale di Scienze NaturaliTorinoItaly
  9. 9.Faculty of BiologyInstitute of ZoologyBelgradeSerbia
  10. 10.Institute for Biological ResearchBelgradeSerbia
  11. 11.Tambov State UniversityTambovRussia
  12. 12.Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of SciencesSt. PetersburgRussia

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