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Genetic consequences of interglacial isolation in a steppe bird

AuthorsGarcía, Jesús T. ; Morales, Manuel B.; Bota, Gerard; Bretagnolle, Vincent; Dávila, José A.
KeywordsGlacial expansion
Interglacial isolation
Steppe species
Genetic differentiation
Little bustard
Issue Date2011
CitationMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 61(3): 671-676 (2011)
AbstractIn response to climate changes that have occurred during Pleistocene glacial cycles, taxa associated to steppe vegetation might have followed a pattern of historical evolution in which isolation and fragmentation of populations occurred during the short interglacials and expansion events occurred during the long glacial periods, in contrast to the pattern described for temperate species. Here, we use molecular genetic data to evaluate this idea in a steppe bird with Palaearctic distribution, the little bustard (Tetrax tetrax). Overall, extremely low genetic diversity and differentiation was observed among eight little bustard populations distributed in Spain and France. Mismatch distribution analyses showed that most little bustard populations expanded during cooling periods previous to, and just after, the last interglacial period (127,000-111,000. years before present), when steppe habitats were widespread across Europe. Coalescent-based methods suggested that glacial expansions have resulted in substantial admixture in Western Europe due to the existence of different interglacial refugia. Our results are consistent with a model of evolution and genetic consequences of Pleistocene cycles with low between-population genetic differentiation as a result of short-term isolation periods during interglacials and long-term exchange during glacial periods.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.07.017
issn: 1055-7903
e-issn: 1095-9513
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