Among oceanic islands, the Canary Islands offer exceptional opportunities for studying speciation processes due to their habitat diversity and well documented geological history. Based on a combined COI+ITS1 data set for more than 140 specimens, we studied the diversification of the land snail genus Theba on the Canary Islands and adjacent African and European continental areas. Phylogenetic analyses resulted in the recognition of 18 genetically distinct clades including at least three new species. Divergence time estimates suggested an evolution of Theba in the Canarian archipelago and an initial radiation on the three eastern-most islands during the Late Oligocene/Early Miocene. Despite the close proximity of NW Africa to the Canary Islands, the main mode of diversification was intra-archipelago speciation rather than independent colonization of the islands from the mainland. Notably, species from Morocco are nested among species from the Canary Islands, indicating re-colonization of the continent from the islands. The re-colonization of NW Africa occurred during the Middle Miocene and led to a remarkable continental radiation.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.