Phylogeographic relationships and shallow mitochondrial divergence of Algerian populations of Salamandra algira

The North African fire salamander, <i>Salamandra algira</i>, is distributed in Algeria, Morocco and Ceuta (Spanish territory located on the north coast of Africa), but until now rather limited information has been available on the populations across the Algerian part of its range. We here provide a first analysis of the phylogeography of this species in Algeria, based on 44 samples from populations distributed across 15 localities in Central Algeria. We sequenced three segments of mitochondrial DNA, covering 12S rRNA, cytochrome <i>b </i>(Cytb) and the D-loop. The mtDNA sequences of the Algerian samples were strongly different from the Moroccan populations occurring west of the Moulouya River (corresponding to the subspecies <i>S. a. tingitana </i>and <i>S. a. splendens</i>) but sister to the genetically rather similar population from the Beni Snassen Massif in eastern Morocco (subspecies <i>S. algira spelaea</i>). Among the Algerian specimens studied, those from the westernmost site, Chrea Massif, were the sister clade to the remaining populations, and the overall genetic divergence was low, with a maximum of five mutational steps in a 295 bp fragment of cytochrome <i>b</i>.