Phylogenetic relationships of the Italian populations of Horseshoe Whip Snake Hemorrhois hippocrepis (Serpentes, Colubridae)
- Horseshoe Whip Snake,
- cytochrome b
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Hemorrhois hippocrepis is a colubrid snake with a West Mediterranean distribution. It is widespread in the Iberian Peninsula and Northwest Africa. The only Italian populations are found on the islands of Sardinia and Pantelleria. The phylogenetic relationships of these insular populations have been analysed for the first time on the basis of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene. The sequences were compared with those available from the geographic range of this species. The analyses showed that the Italian samples are part of a lineage that groups Tunisian and East Algerian samples, with which they share the same haplotype. These results strongly support the hypothesis of a recent origin of the Italian populations of Hemorrhois hippocrepis, probably determined by human-mediated dispersal from North Africa.