The Mediterranean land snail genus Mastus (Beck, 1837) is highly divergent. Thirty-two Mastus species have been recorded throughout the genus range, and 23 of them are endemic to the islands of the Aegean Sea and mainland Greece. Of these, all 16 Mastus species reported from Crete are endemic to this island. A robust molecular phylogenetic framework based on mitochondrial and nuclear genes (1623 bp) allowed us to explore the temporal diversification pattern of lineages, using molecular clock approaches. Our results showed an initial radiation in the evolutionary history of the Cretan lineage, followed by a subsequent slowdown of lineage splitting rate. Using a dated major vicariant event of the Aegean area, we estimated the absolute time of the radiation event and proposed a biogeographic scenario accounting for the observed pattern. Additionally, we tried to infer the processes that led to the divergence of the Cretan Mastus species, by applying comparative methods in phylogenetically informated context. Overall, our results favoured a nonecological radiation scenario in the Cretan Mastus species due to an allopatric divergence of secondary sexual characters.
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Vol. 59 • No. 5