Mitochondrial DNA variation and biogeography of eastern gorillas


  • M. I. Jensen-Seaman,

    1. Department of Anthropology Yale University, P.O. Box 208277, New Haven, CT 06520-8277, USA,
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    • Present address Human and Molecular Genetics Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.

  • K. K. Kidd

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Genetics, Yale University, P.O. Box 208005, New Haven, CT 06520-8005, USA
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K. K. Kidd. Fax: 1 203 785 6568;


Mitochondrial DNA variation in 109 individuals from four populations of wild living gorillas in East Africa was ascertained by sequencing the first hypervariable segment of the control region, or ‘d-loop’, amplified from noninvasively collected hair and faeces. d-loop haplotypes from eastern gorillas fell into two distinct clades, each with low levels of genetic diversity; most observed haplotypes within each clade differing by only one or two mutations. Both clades show evidence of population bottlenecks in the recent past, perhaps concomitant with the tropical forest reduction and fragmentation brought on by global cooling and drying associated with the last glacial maximum.