Speciation in a rapidly changing environment. Comparative phylogeographic study of the Eastern Mediterranean terrestrial fauna
Project duration: 2021 - 2024
Keywords: ecological niche, orthopterans, speciation, reptiles, mitochondrial DNA

The aim of the project is to study the phylogeography of distant groups of terrestrial animals, to compare their evolutionary history within the dynamic environment of the Eastern Mediterranean, and to assess the effect of different geological events and climatic transitions on the speciation and distribution of model reptile and insect species.

Genetic diversity of horned viper (Vipera ammodytes) in Bulgaria was analyzed using mitochondrial markers. The results show that three of the previously defined mitochondrial clades of the species occur in the country. Representatives of different clades were found in close proximity along river valleys in western Bulgaria, suggesting the presence of contact zones and possible gene flow between them under suitable conditions.

Ecological niche models of the steppe viper (Vipera ursinii) - the most endangered snake species in Europe, and considered extinct in Bulgaria, were created. Hypotheses for a wider distribution of the species on the Balkan Peninsula during the Pleistocene were tested. We outlined possible climatic and anthropogenic factors that led to the extinction of the Bulgarian populations, such as warming and habitat fragmentation. 

The genetic diversity of the species Isophya hospodar, a bush-cricket with a fragmented distribution in Bulgaria, was studied. Hypotheses about the displacement and the subsequent fragmentation of the populations are tested. 

The project helped establish a new network of active young scientists.

  • Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research

Contact person: Simeon Borissov,

List with publications

Dyugmedzhiev, A., Andonov, K., Hristov, G., & Borissov, S. (2024). New data on the distribution of the Vipera ammodytes (Linnaeus, 1758) mitochondrial lineages place their contact zone in western Bulgaria. Herpetozoa, 37, 57-63.