Carapace shape variation of genetically divergent populations of Testudo hermanni boettgeri (Reptilia: Testudines)



cytb mtDNA, geometric morphometrics, landscape genetics, subspecies, turtle


Paper description:

  • Molecular markers, qualitative traits and linear morphometrics disagree on the taxonomical recognition of Balkan’s Hermann’s tortoise (“Testudo hercegovinensis”) populations along the eastern Adriatic Sea coast.
  • For the first time, we analyzed the available genetic data and de novo sequences of cytb mtDNA from Trebinje (type locality of “Testudo hercegovinensis”, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Pčinja River Valley (an area of great conservation importance in Serbia), using a landscape genetic approach. We provide data on morphological (carapace) variability of two populations obtained by geometric morphometrics.
  • The implemented approaches argue for genetic and morphological distinctiveness of two allopatric populations.
  • Based on cytb mtDNA, the populations from Pčinja and Trebinje belong to divergent genetical clusters within nominal eastern subspecies Testudo hermanni boettgeri.

Abstract: The published cytb mtDNA sequences from a previous phylogeographic study of Testudo hermanni and de novo genetic and phenotypic data of samples from the Pčinja River Valley (Serbia, Central Balkans) and Trebinje (Bosnia and Herzegovina) were used to: (i) genetically characterize samples from Pčinja, a region of great importance from the conservation standpoint due to its taxonomic diversity and biogeographical history, and Trebinje, a type locality of a disputed taxon “Testudo hercegoviensis” Werner, 1899; (ii) to study the link between gene genealogy and geographic distribution by implementing spatial genetic analyses, and (iii) to assess whether the distribution of carapace shape variation is in accordance with genetic clusters. The samples from Pčinja and Trebinje possessed divergent haplotypes that corresponded to east (HI) and west (HV) genetic clusters, respectively. Geometric morphometrics was found to be a suitable method to distinguish divergent genetic clusters, arguing for the reassessment of a subspecific ranking within the currently recognized eastern Hermann’s subspecies, T. h. boettgeri.

Received: June 4, 2019; Revised: July 5, 2019; Accepted: July 15, 2019; Published online: July 25, 2019

How to cite this article: Đurakić MR, Milankov VR. Carapace shape variation of genetically divergent populations of Testudo hermanni boettgeri (Reptilia: Testudines). Arch Biol Sci. 2019;71(4):609-19.


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How to Cite

Đurakić MR, Milankov VR. Carapace shape variation of genetically divergent populations of Testudo hermanni boettgeri (Reptilia: Testudines). Arch Biol Sci [Internet]. 2019Dec.19 [cited 2022Aug.18];71(4):609-1. Available from: