Comparative molecular studies emphasized a new biogeographic paradigm for the terrestrial fauna of North Africa, one of the last uncharted ecoregions of the Western Palearctic: two independent east-west divisions across the Maghreb. Through a comprehensive phylogeography, we assessed how this model suits the genetic diversification documented for the tree frog Hyla meridionalis sensu lato. Analyses of mtDNA variation and thousands of nuclear loci confirmed the old split (low-Pliocene) between Tunisian and Algerian populations. These lineages meet but barely admix in the eastern Maghreb (Algerian-Tunisian border), a sign of putatively advanced reproductive isolation. In the western Maghreb, we report a Pleistocene divergence between Moroccan and Algerian populations. Tree frogs thus follow both predictions: a double east-west break that gave rise to two suture zones characteristic of North-African phylogeography. Moreover, some intraspecific mtDNA variation is not mirrored by the nuclear data, emphasizing that evolutionary units should always be designated by multilocus approaches. Last but not least, we describe the Tunisian lineage as a new species endemic to Africa.
Keywords: Amphibians; Historical DNA; Hyla africana; Hyla carthaginiensis; Hyla meridionalis; North-Africa; Phylogeography; Population genomics; RAD-sequencing.
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