Cryptic diversity among Western Palearctic tree frogs: postglacial range expansion, range limits, and secondary contacts of three European tree frog lineages (Hyla arborea group)

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Oct;65(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.05.014. Epub 2012 May 29.


We characterize divergence times, intraspecific diversity and distributions for recently recognized lineages within the Hyla arborea species group, based on mitochondrial and nuclear sequences from 160 localities spanning its whole distribution. Lineages of H. arborea, H. orientalis, H. molleri have at least Pliocene age, supporting species level divergence. The genetically uniform Iberian H. molleri, although largely isolated by the Pyrenees, is parapatric to H. arborea, with evidence for successful hybridization in a small Aquitanian corridor (southwestern France), where the distribution also overlaps with H. meridionalis. The genetically uniform H. arborea, spread from Crete to Brittany, exhibits molecular signatures of a postglacial range expansion. It meets different mtDNA clades of H. orientalis in NE-Greece, along the Carpathians, and in Poland along the Vistula River (there including hybridization). The East-European H. orientalis is strongly structured genetically. Five geographic mitochondrial clades are recognized, with a molecular signature of postglacial range expansions for the clade that reached the most northern latitudes. Hybridization with H. savignyi is suggested in southwestern Turkey. Thus, cryptic diversity in these Pliocene Hyla lineages covers three extremes: a genetically poor, quasi-Iberian endemic (H. molleri), a more uniform species distributed from the Balkans to Western Europe (H. arborea), and a well-structured Asia Minor-Eastern European species (H. orientalis).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anura / classification*
  • Anura / genetics
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biodiversity*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Europe
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Phylogeny*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial