North Africa is a climatically and topographically complex region with unique biotic assemblages resulting from the combination of multiple biogeographic realms. Here, we assess the role of climate in promoting intra-specific diversification in a Palearctic relict, the North African fire salamander, Salamandra algira, using a combination of phylogenetic and population genetic analyses, paleoclimatic modelling and niche overlap tests. We used mitochondrial DNA (Cyt-b), 9838 ddRADseq loci, and 14 microsatellite loci to characterize patterns of genetic diversity and population structure. Phylogenetic analyses recover two major clades, each including several lineages with mito-nuclear discordances suggesting introgressive patterns between lineages in the Middle Atlas, associated with a melting pot of genetic diversity. Paleoclimatic modelling identified putative climatic refugia, largely matching areas of high genetic diversity, and supports the role of aridity in promoting allopatric diversification associated with ecological niche conservatism. Overall, our results highlight the role of climatic microrefugia as drivers of populations' persistence and diversification in the face of climatic oscillations in North Africa, and stress the importance of accounting for different genomic regions when reconstructing biogeographic processes from molecular markers.
Keywords: Allopatric divergence; Biogeography; Melting pot; North Africa; Palearctic relict; Salamander.
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