Low mitochondrial DNA variation and recent colonization of Scandinavia by the wood lemming Myopus schisticolor


  • This paper is the result of a Swedish-Russian collaboration to study evolutionary and population genetics of lemmings (Myopus, Lemmus, Dicrostonyx) over a wide circumpolar sector. Vadim Fedorov is a visiting researcher at the Department of Genetics Uppsala University, where Karl Fredga and Maarit Jaarola are working with problems like chromosome evolution, genetics of speciation and phylogeography.

Tel.: + 46-18-67-13–24. Fax: + 46-18-67-27-05. E-mail: Vadim.Fedorov@genetik.uu.se


The population genetic structure of wood lemmings (Myopus schisticolor) from Scandinavia, Finland and western Siberia was examined by restriction fragment length polymorphism of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in 45 individuals from six localities. The 12 observed mtDNA haplotypes demonstrated a distinct phylogeographic pattern, suggesting that the postglacial colonization of Scandinavia by wood lemmings occurred from north-east. However, a very low level of haplotype and nucleotide diversity and a lack of geographical structure were found within Scandinavia. The limited mtDNA diversity in the Scandinavian populations probably reflects recent divergence in situ after colonization by a limited number of founders. Allozyme data support this scenario.