Genetic diversity and evolutionary history of the Tyrrhenian treefrog Hyla sarda (Anura: Hylidae): adding pieces to the puzzle of Corsica–Sardinia biota




The Corsica–Sardinia archipelago is a hotspot of Mediterranean biodiversity. Although tempo and mode of arrival of species to this archipelago and phylogenetic relationships with continental species have been investigated in many taxa, very little is known about the current genetic structure and evolutionary history subsequent to arrival. In the present study, we investigated genetic variation within and among populations of the Tyrrhenian treefrog Hyla sarda, a species endemic to the Corsica–Sardinia microplate and the surrounding islands, by means of allozyme electrophoresis. Low genetic divergence (mean Dnei = 0.01) and no appreciable differences in the levels and distribution of genetic variability (HE: 0.06–0.09) were observed among all but one populations (Elba). Historical demographic and isolation-by-distance analyses indicated that this diffused genetic homogeneity could be the result of recent demographic expansion. Along with paleoenvironmental data, such expansion could have occurred during the last glacial phase, when wide and persistent land bridges connected the main islands and a widening of lowland areas occurred. This scenario is unprecedented among Corsica–Sardinia species. Together with the lack of concordance even among the few previously studied species, this suggests either that species had largely independent responses to paleoenvironmental changes, or that most of the history of assembly of the Corsica–Sardinia biota is yet to be written. © 2011 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2011, 103, 159–167.