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Keywords:

  • cytochrome b;
  • isolation-by-resistance;
  • Italian Peninsula;
  • niche modeling;
  • refugia within refugia;
  • Sorex arunchi

The aim of the present study was to investigate the genetic structure of the Valais shrew (Sorex antinorii) by a combined phylogeographical and landscape genetic approach, and thereby to infer the locations of glacial refugia and establish the influence of geographical barriers. We sequenced part of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (cyt b) gene of 179 individuals of S. antinorii sampled across the entire species' range. Six specimens attributed to S. arunchi were included in the analysis. The phylogeographical pattern was assessed by Bayesian molecular phylogenetic reconstruction, population genetic analyses, and a species distribution modelling (SDM)-based hindcasting approach. We also used landscape genetics (including isolation-by-resistance) to infer the determinants of current intra-specific genetic structure. The phylogeographical analysis revealed shallow divergence among haplotypes and no clear substructure within S. antinorii. The starlike structure of the median-joining network is consistent with population expansion from a single refugium, probably located in the Apennines. Long branches observed on the same network also suggest that another refugium may have existed in the north-eastern part of Italy. This result is consistent with SDM, which also suggests several habitable areas for S. antinorii in the Italian peninsula during the LGM. Therefore S. antinorii appears to have occupied disconnected glacial refugia in the Italian peninsula, supporting previous data for other species showing multiple refugia within southern refugial areas. By coupling genetic analyses and SDM, we were able to infer how past climatic suitability contributed to genetic divergence of populations. The genetic differentiation shown in the present study does not support the specific status of S. arunchi. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 105, 864–880.