The newts Triturus vulgaris and Triturus montandoni are sister species that exhibit contrasting levels of intraspecific morphological variation. Triturus vulgaris has a broad Eurasiatic distribution encompassing both formerly glaciated and unglaciated areas and shows substantial morphological differentiation in the southern part of its range, while T. montandoni, confined to the Carpathians, is morphologically uniform. We analysed sequence variation of two mtDNA fragments of the total length of c. 1850 bp in 285 individuals of both species collected from 103 localities. Phylogenetic analysis of 200 unique haplotypes defined 12 major clades, their age estimated at c. 4.5–1.0 million years (Myr). Most of the older clades were found in the southern part of the range, and also in central Europe, mainly in Romania. The distribution of mtDNA clades points to the existence of several glacial refugia, located in the Caucasus region, Anatolia, the Balkan Peninsula, Italy, and more to the north in central Europe. The concordance between mtDNA based phylogeny and the distribution of T. vulgaris subspecies was weak. Triturus montandoni haplotypes did not form a monophyletic group. Instead they were found in six clades, in five of them mixed with T. vulgaris haplotypes, most likely as a result of past or ongoing hybridization and multiple introgression of mtDNA from T. vulgaris to T. montandoni. Patterns of sequence variation within clades suggested long-term demographic stability in the southern groups, moderate and relatively old demographic growth in the populations inhabiting central Europe, and high growth in some of the groups that colonized northern parts of Europe after the last glacial maximum.
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