Molecular studies on the colonization of the Madeiran archipelago by house mice


 J. B. Searle. Fax: 01904–432860;


To study the colonization history of the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) on the Madeiran archipelago, complete mitochondrial D-loop sequences were obtained for 44 individuals from Madeira, Porto Santo and Ilhas Desertas. Altogether, 19 D-loop haplotypes were identified which formed part of a single clade in a phylogeny incorporating haplotypes from elsewhere in the range of M. m. domesticus, indicating that the Madeiras were colonized from a single source. Similarities between the sequences found in the Madeiras and those in Scandinavia and northern Germany suggest that northern Europe was the source area, and there is the intriguing possibility that the Vikings may have accidentally brought house mice to the archipelago. However, there is no record of Vikings visiting the Madeiras; on historical grounds, Portugal is the most likely source area for Madeiran mice and further molecular data from Portugal are needed to rule out that possibility.