Taxonomic reevaluation of Eremias strauchi strauchi Kessler, 1878 and Eremias strauchi kopetdaghica Szczerbak, 1972, based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences (Reptilia: Lacertidae)
Strauch's Racerunner, Eremias strauchi, is represented by two subspecies, Eremias strauchi strauchi Kessler, 1878 and Eremias strauchi kopetdaghica Szczerbak, 1972, occurring in opposite margins on the northern Iranian Plateau. We sequenced 3926 base pairs of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from 16 samples of Eremias strauchi, Eremias lalezharica and Eremias velox collected from northeastern, northwestern and southern Iran. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that Eremias lalezharica is sister to Eremias strauchi kopetdaghica and caused the currently recognised species Eremias strauchi to be paraphyletic. According to the estimated genetic distances in the mitochondrial fragments among the lineages, E. s. strauchi diverged from E. s. kopetdaghica and E. lalezharica with a mean genetic distance of 14.0% and 13.9% respectively. Our data indicate enough molecular divergence between the two currently recognised subspecies of E. strauchi and justify upgrading them to full species level as Eremias strauchi (for the north-western clade) and Eremias kopetdaghica (for the north-eastern clade).