No apparent reduction of gene flow in a hybrid zone between the West and North European karyotypic groups of the common shrew, Sorex araneus

Authors

  • A.-C. Andersson,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Conservation Biology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • Y. Narain,

    1. Department of Conservation Biology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • H. Tegelström,

    1. Department of Conservation Biology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • K. Fredga

    1. Department of Conservation Biology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18 D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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A.-C. Andersson. Fax: 46 18 471 6424; E-mail: annacarin.andersson@ebc.uu.se

Abstract

The common shrew, Sorex araneus, exhibits an unusually high level of karyotypic variation. Populations with identical or similar karyotypes are defined as chromosome races, which are, in turn, grouped into larger evolutionary units, karyotypic groups. Using six microsatellite markers, we investigated the genetic structure of a hybrid zone between the Sidensjö and Abisko chromosome races, representatives of two distinct karyotypic groups believed to have been separated during the last glacial maximum, the West European karyotypic group (western group) and the North European karyotypic group (northern group), respectively. Significant FST values among populations suggest some weak genetic structure. All hierarchical levels show similar levels of genetic differentiation, equivalent to levels of genetic structure in several intraracial studies of common shrew populations from central Europe. Notably, genetic differentiation was of the same order of magnitude between and within karyotypic groups. Although the genetic differentiation was weak, the correlation between genetic and geographical distance was positive and significant, suggesting that the genetic variation observed between populations is a function of geographical distance rather than racial origin. Hence, considerable chromosomal differences do not seem to prevent extensive gene flow.

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