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Evidences for ecological niche differentiation on the Anatolian lizard (Apathya cappadocica ssp.) (Reptilia: Lacertidae) in western Asia

  • Seyyed Saeed Hosseinian YousefkhaniEmail author
  • Eskandar Rastegar-Pouyani
  • Çetin Ilgaz
  • Yusuf Kumlutaş
  • Aziz Avcı
  • Michael Wink
Original Article


The aim of this study was to predict suitable habitat for different clades of Apathya cappadocica in the Middle East. An additional goal was to calculate the ecological niche space of all lineages to determine the hypothesized degree of niche overlap and niche differentiation between these clades in Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. All presence records of Apathya taxa in the study area were obtained and georeferenced from fieldwork, literature, and museums. All presence points were determined using 1 × 1 km grids covering the study countries. Environmental data such as bioclimate variables were also gathered at this resolution. Species distribution modeling was carried out using MaxEnt to determine current suitable regions for each lineage, and then the outputs were compared to find the degree of niche overlap between them. Our results found that all of the predicted models have high accuracy and some overlap with each other, especially for A. c. schmidtlerorum, but other lineages have distinctive models. Mean temperature of coldest quarter, isothermality, annual precipitation, and precipitation of coldest quarter were the highest contributed variables for A. c. cappadocica, A. c. wolteri, A. c. schmidtlerorum, A. c. urmiana, and A. c. muhtari, respectively. Ecological niche differentiation was found between all lineages, but A. c. schmidtlerorum shows niche similarity with other subspecies. Therefore, as previously recommended, A. c. schmidtlerorum can be synonymized with A. c. muhtari. Finally, our ecological results confirmed the specific status of all genetic lineages except for A. c. schmidtlerorum, consistent with the recommendation from a previous molecular study.


Apathya Lacertidae Middle east Niche differentiation Reptiles 



We thank Dr. Ann Paterson, who edited the first draft of this manuscript before submission. We also thank Hakim Sabzevari for support for this project. The project was partially supported by the Center for International Scientific Studies and Collaboration (CISSC) under contraction number 1669.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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11756_2019_273_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (324 kb)
Online Resource 3 (PDF 323 kb)


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Copyright information

© Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceHakim Sabzevari UniversitySabzevarIran
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceDokuz Eylül UniversityBucaTurkey
  3. 3.Research and Application Center for Fauna FloraDokuz Eylul UniversityBucaTurkey
  4. 4.Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and ArtsAdnan Menderes UniversityAydınTurkey
  5. 5.Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology (IPMB)Heidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

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