Genetic diversity and gene flow decline with elevation in the near Eastern fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata) at Mount Hermon, Golan Heights

Kathleen Preißler, Eliane Küpfer, Fabian Löffler, Arlo Hinckley, Leon Blaustein, Sebastian Steinfartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Near Eastern fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata) reaches its southern distribution range in Israel. Although the population structure has been analysed in central Israel and at the southern distribution limit, we lack knowledge on populations in the northern area, such as along Mount Hermon. S. infraimmaculata occurs at Mt. Hermon along an altitudinal gradient and appears to be fragmented by urban and agricultural landscape. We studied the genetic structure of four populations based on microsatellite loci and the mitochondrial D-loop to determine the genetic diversity and connectivity between populations. We observed moderate gene flow at lower parts, i.e. from Tel Dan and Nimrod Castle to Banias indicating extant but limited connectivity. Genetic diversity and gene flow declined along the altitudinal gradient at Mt. Hermon, reaching rock-bottom levels in the highest located population of Nimrod Pool. The observed isolation-by-elevation gradient might induce a higher extinction risk for the highland populations of S. infraimmaculata.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
JournalAmphibia - Reptilia
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We feel deep grief at the loss of our colleague Leon Blaustein, a great scientist and wonderful person. We would like to thank Rabea Dabous, Eitan Nisim and the Rangers from the Tel Dan Nature Reserve for providing access to the reserve. Special thanks to Serg? Boegarts for helpful discussions. We thank Meike Kondermann and Christian Wartenberg for conducting laboratory work and Daniel J. Goedbloed for helping in fieldwork. We are grateful for assistance and permits issued by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority (INPA, 2013/40174, 2013/40284 and 2014/40672). The German-Israel Project-cooperation (DIP, DFG reference number BL 1271/1-1, STE 1130/8-1) funded the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020.


  • D-loop
  • Genetic fitness
  • Israel
  • Microsatellites
  • Migration barrier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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