• asexuality;
  • Cobitis;
  • glacial refuges;
  • hybridization;
  • phylogeography


Recent advances in population history reconstruction offered a powerful tool for comparisons of the abilities of sexual and clonal forms to respond to Quaternary climatic oscillations, ultimately leading to inferences about the advantages and disadvantages of a given mode of reproduction. We reconstructed the Quaternary historical biogeography of the sexual parental species and clonal hybrid lineages within the Europe-wide hybrid complex of Cobitis spiny loaches. Cobitis elongatoides and Cobitis taenia recolonizing Europe from separated refuges met in central Europe and the Pontic region giving rise to hybrid lineages during the Holocene. Cobitis elongatoides due to its long-term reproductive contact with the remaining parental species of the complex — C. tanaitica and C. spec. — gave rise to two clonal hybrid lineages probably during the last interglacial or even earlier, which survived the Würmian glaciation with C. elongatoides. These lineages followed C. elongatoides postglacial expansion and probably decreased its dispersal rate. Our data indicate the frequent origins of asexuality irrespective of the parental populations involved and the comparable dispersal potential of diploid and triploid lineages.