Multilocus phylogeny and coalescent species delimitation in Kotschy's gecko, Mediodactylus kotschyi: Hidden diversity and cryptic species

Panayiota Kotsakiozi, Daniel Jablonski, Çetin Ilgaz, Yusuf Kumlutaş, Aziz Avcı, Shai Meiri, Yuval Itescu, Oleg Kukushkin, Václav Gvoždík, Giovanni Scillitani, Stephanos A. Roussos, David Jandzik, Panagiotis Kasapidis, Petros Lymberakis, Nikos Poulakakis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Kotschy's Gecko, Mediodactylus kotschyi, is a small gecko native to southeastern Europe and the Levant. It displays great morphological variation with a large number of morphologically recognized subspecies. However, it has been suggested that it constitutes a species complex of several yet unrecognized species. In this study, we used multilocus sequence data (three mitochondrial and three nuclear gene fragments) to estimate the phylogenetic relationships of 174 specimens from 129 sampling localities, covering a substantial part of the distribution range of the species. Our results revealed high genetic diversity of M. kotschyi populations and contributed to our knowledge about the phylogenetic relationships and the estimation of the divergence times between them. Diversification within M. kotschyi began approximately 15 million years ago (Mya) in the Middle Miocene, whereas the diversification within most of the major clades have been occurred in the last 5 Mya. Species delimitation analysis suggests there exists five species within the complex, and we propose to tentatively recognize the following taxa as full species: M. kotschyi (mainland Balkans, most of Aegean islands, and Italy), M. orientalis (Levant, Cyprus, southern Anatolia, and south-eastern Aegean islands), M. danilewskii (Black Sea region and south-western Anatolia), M. bartoni (Crete), and M. oertzeni (southern Dodecanese Islands). This newly recognized diversity underlines the complex biogeographical history of the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Aug 2018


FundersFunder number
National Museum Prague00023272
Institute of Veterinary Bacteriology, University of Bern68081766
European Commission
European Social Fund
Agentúra na Podporu Výskumu a VývojaAPVV-15-0147
Ministerstvo KulturyDKRVO 2018/14
Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs


    • Divergence times
    • Eastern Mediterranean
    • Gekkonidae
    • Species complex
    • Species delimitation
    • Systematics


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