Genetic structure of the fire salamander Salamandra salamandra in the Polish Sudetes

We analysed genetic variation within and differentiation between nineteen populations of the fire salamander <i>Salamandra salamandra </i>inhabiting the north-eastern margin of the species range in the Sudetes Mountains (south-western Poland). The results were compared with those obtained recently for the Polish part of the Carpathians. Variation of 10 nuclear microsatellite loci was analysed in 744 individuals to estimate genetic structure, gene flow, isolation and to test for a geographic gradient of genetic variation. Mitochondrial DNA control region (D-loop) of 252 specimens from all localities was used to identify the origin of populations currently inhabiting its north-eastern range. We found little genetic differentiation among populations in the Sudetes indicating substantial recent or ongoing gene flow. The exceptions were one isolated peripheral population located outside the continuous distribution range which displayed extremely reduced genetic variation probably due to a combination of long term isolation and low population size, and one population located at the eastern margin of the Polish Sudetes. Populations inhabiting the Sudetes and the Carpathians formed two separate clusters based on microsatellite loci. In accordance with available phylogeographic information, single mitochondrial haplotype (type IIb) fixed in all populations indicates their origin from a single refugium and may suggest colonization from the Balkan Peninsula. The analysis of geographic gradient in variation showed its decline in the westerly direction suggesting colonization of Poland from the east, however, alternative scenarios of postglacial colonization could not be rejected with the available data.