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Geographic genetic architecture of pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) populations in Baja California, Mexico



    1. Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste, SC, Mar Bermejo 195, AP 128, La Paz, Baja California Sur, 23090, Mexico
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    1. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 3101 Valley Life Sciences Building, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
      James L. Patton. Fax: 510 643 8238; E-mail:
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James L. Patton. Fax: 510 643 8238; E-mail:


Phylogenetic analyses of complete mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences support the monophyly of pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) populations from the 1000 km length of the Baja California peninsula of Mexico, relative to other geographical segments of the species range in western North America. The Baja California peninsula is an area that encompasses considerable ecomorphological and infraspecific diversity within this pocket gopher species. However, detailed population analyses encompassing 35 localities distributed over the southern half of the peninsula reveal only trivial phylogeographical structure. Rather, most of the 72 unique 500-base pair haplotypes examined from 142 individuals is restricted to single populations, although a few haplotypes are shared broadly across geography. Individual populations are typically comprised of haplotype sets from different branches in a network of relationships. Analysis of molecular variance (amova) indicates that approximately half of the total pool of variation is contained among individuals within local populations, and that only about 25% can be explained by the regional subdivisions of current subspecies distributions or physiographic realms. A hypothesized historical vicariant event that has been causally linked to the phylogeographical structure of other, codistributed species has had little influence on these pocket gopher populations, explaining only 13% of the total variation. The temporal depth, estimated by coalescence parameters, of the haplotype lineage in Baja California is relatively recent, approximately 300 000 generations; both the mismatch distribution of pairwise comparisons and a significantly positive exponential growth estimate support a recent history of expanding populations; but current, or recent past, migration estimates have remained small, are largely unidirectional from north to south, and weak isolation by distance is present. All data suggest that pocket gophers have relatively recently invaded the southern half of peninsular Baja California, with the genetic signature of expansion still evident but with sufficient time having lapsed to result in a weak isolation by distance pattern. The geographical assemblage of sampled populations thus appears as a meta-population, with limited gene flow contrasting with random haplotype loss due to drift in small, localized populations.

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