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Keywords:

  • Anatolia;
  • biogeography;
  • Fourier analysis;
  • genetic differentiation;
  • geometric morphometrics;
  • Gliridae;
  • mitochondrial cytochrome b;
  • molar shape;
  • Thrace

Past climatic fluctuations influenced forest habitats and impacted heavily the distribution of forest species, such as the edible dormouse, by changing the distribution and composition of forests themselves. Such effects may be valid for ongoing climate change as well. To improve our understanding of the edible dormouse's history and how it responded to changes in its environment, we investigated its variation across the understudied zone of Northern Turkey using two complementary markers of differentiation: the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene for genetics, and size and shape of the first upper molar for phenotypic differences. Genetic and morphometric results were strongly discrepant. Genetic analyses evidenced an amazing homogeneity throughout the Eurasian range of the edible dormouse, whereas morphometrics pointed to a complex, step-wise differentiation along the Black Sea coast, the main signal being an opposition between Easternmost and Westernmost Turkish dormice. The genetic homogeneity suggests that this phenotypic differentiation is not the inheritance of glacial refuges, but the consequence of a more recent post-glacial isolation. The transition between the European and Asian groups is located eastwards from the Marmara straits, undermining its claimed role as an efficient barrier but stressing the importance of climatic and vegetational factors. A secondary differentiation between populations from the Central Black Sea coast and Easternmost regions was evidenced, attributed to a complex interplay of climatic, topographic, anthropogenic, and ecological factors. Turkey, at the crossroad of European and Asian species, heavily impacted by the current global change including climatic and anthropogenic factors, appears of importance for understanding the historical dynamics of differentiation and exchanges between populations that shaped the current distribution of Eurasian species and their future survival. © 2012 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2012, 107, 611–623.