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Keywords:

  • genetic drift;
  • historical events;
  • metabolism;
  • metapopulation;
  • range expansion;
  • selection

Abstract

The distribution of mitochondrial control region-sequence polymorphism was investigated in 15 populations of Crocidura russula along an altitudinal gradient in western Switzerland. High-altitude populations are smaller, sparser and appear to undergo frequent bottlenecks. Accordingly, they showed a loss of rare haplotypes, but unexpectedly, were less differentiated than lowland populations. Furthermore, the major haplotypes segregated significantly with altitude. The results were inconsistent with a simple model of drift and dispersal. They suggested instead a role for historical patterns of colonization, or, alternatively, present-day selective forces acting on one of the mitochondrial genes involved in metabolic pathways.