Seven at one blow: the origin of major lineages of the viviparous Lycian salamanders (Lyciasalamandra Veith and Steinfartz, 2004) was triggered by a single paleo-historic event

The number of tectonic and climatic events that are used to explain speciation processes in the eastern Mediterranean region is low compared to the western Mediterranean. Among them, the emergence of the mid-Aegean trench and the Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC) often concurred with speciation time estimates that were inferred from molecular data. We here present a dated molecular phylogeny of <i>Lyciasalamandra </i>from Turkey and Greece based on ca. 4500 bp of the mitochondrial genome (3000 bp of three nuclear genes appeared to be completely inconclusive due to their extremely low degree of variation among taxa). Seven major lineages emerged simultaneously from a basal hard polytomy. A scenario that dates this polytomy to 12.3 and 10.2 million years ago, around the final emergence of the mid-Aegean trench, appears to be most plausible. TheMSC can be made responsible for first intraspecific divergence events within <i>L. luschani</i>, <i>L. fazilae </i>and <i>L. flavimembris</i>. Further diversification can be explained by Pliocene and Pleistocene glaciations. Based on levels of molecular differentiation we suggest the recently described species <i>L. arikani</i>, <i>L. irfani </i>and <i>L. yehudahi </i>to be treated as subspecies of <i>L. billae</i>.