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Data from: The legacy of Eastern Mediterranean mountain uplifts – rapid disparity of phylogenetic niche conservatism and divergence in mountain vipers

Citation

Ahmadi, Mohsen et al. (2021), Data from: The legacy of Eastern Mediterranean mountain uplifts – rapid disparity of phylogenetic niche conservatism and divergence in mountain vipers, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.b5mkkwhb9

Abstract

Aim The orogeny of the eastern Mediterranean region has substantially affected ecological speciation patterns, particularly of mountain-dwelling species. Mountain vipers of the genus Montivipera are among the paramount examples of Mediterranean neo-endemism, with restricted ranges in the mountains of Anatolia, the Levant, Caucasus, Alborz, and Zagros. Here we explore the phylogenetic and ecological diversification of Montivipera to reconstruct its ecological niche evolution and biogeographic history.

Location Eastern Mediterranean mountain ecosystems

Methods Using 177 sequences of three mitochondrial genes, a dated molecular phylogeny of mountain vipers was reconstructed. Based on 320 occurrence points within the entire range of the genus and six climatic variables, ecological niches were modelled and used to infer ancestral niche occupancy. In addition, the biogeographic history and ancestral states of the species were reconstructed across climate gradients.

Results Dated phylogenetic reconstruction revealed that the ancestor of mountain vipers split into two major clades at around 12.18 Mya followed by multiple vicariance events due to rapid orogeny. Montivipera colonised coastal regions from a mountain-dwelling ancestor. We detected a highly complex ecological niche evolution of mountain vipers to temperature seasonality measured by means of a strong phylogenetic signal.

Conclusion Raising mountain belts in the Eastern Mediterranean region and subsequent remarkable changes in temperature seasonality have led to the formation of important centres of diversification and endemism in this biodiversity hotspot. High rates of niche conservatism, low genetic diversity, and segregation of ranges into the endemic distribution negatively influenced the adaptive capacity of mountain vipers. We suggest that these species should be considered as evolutionary significant units and priority species for conservation in Mediterranean mountain ecosystems.