Phylogeography and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) diversity in North American collared lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus)


N. C. Stenseth. Fax: +47-22-85-46-05; E-mail:


Variation in the nucleotide sequence of the mitochondrial control region (250 bp) and the cytochrome b region (870 bp) was examined in collared lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus) from 19 localities in northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. The division of D. groenlandicus in two phylogeographical groups with limited divergence across the Mackenzie River is consistent with the separation of this species in more than one refugial area located to the northwest of the Laurentide ice sheet during the last glaciation. Populations of D.groenlandicus from formerly glaciated areas are no less variable than those in nonglaciated areas. Instead, the low intrapopulation and intraregional diversity estimates in D. groenlandicus are probably a result of regional bottleneck events due to range contractions during Holocene warming events. These results are consistent with findings previously reported on collared lemmings (D. torquatus) from the Eurasian Arctic.