Molecular phylogeny and historical biogeography of the land snail (Past)

The land snail genus Solatopupa consists of six species and has a peri-Tyrrhenian distribution; most of the species have a very narrow range and all of them except one (Solatopupa cianensis, which inhabits porphyritic rocks) are strictly bound to calcareous substrates. One species (Solatopupa guidoni) is limited to Sardinia, Corsica, and Elba Island. Because the potential for dispersal of these snails is low, the insular range of this species has been traditionally related to the Oligocenic detachment of the Sardinia–Corsica microplate from the Iberian plate and its subsequent rotation towards the Italian peninsula.

In this study, we used sequences of three mitochondrial and one nuclear gene to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the genus. Our phylogenetic results are consistent with the genetic relationships found using allozymes, but contrast with the phylogenetic hypotheses based on karyology and morphology. Molecular clock estimates indicate that the main cladogenetic events in the genus occurred between the middle Miocene and the middle-late Pliocene. Patterns of phylogenetic relationships and geological considerations suggest that the cladogenesis of the genus can be explained by vicariant (tectonic) processes. Our datings do not support a causal relation between the split of S. guidoni from its continental sister taxon and the initial phases of the detachment of the Corsica–Sardinia microplate from the mainland. On the contrary, time estimates coincide with the very last phase of detachment of the microplate (from 5 to 3 Myrs ago). Overall, our molecular clock estimates are in good agreement with the latest geological views on the tectonic evolution of the peri-Tyrrhenian area. (pdf)

Publication: Ketmaier, V., F. Giusti and A. Caccone. 2006. Molecular phylogeny and historical biogeography of the land snail genus Solatopupa (Pulmonata) in the peri-Tyrrhenian area. Mol. Phylog. And Evol., 39: 439-451