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Phylogeographic structure and postglacial evolutionary history of water voles (Arvicola terrestris) in the United Kingdom

Authors

  • STUART B. PIERTNEY,

    Corresponding author
    1. NERC Molecular Genetics in Ecology Initiative, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK,
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  • WENDY A. STEWART,

    1. NERC Molecular Genetics in Ecology Initiative, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK,
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  • XAVIER LAMBIN,

    1. Aberdeen Population Ecology Research Unit (APERU), School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK,
    2. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Banchory Research Station, Hill of Brathens, Banchory AB31 4BW, UK
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  • SANDRA TELFER,

    1. Aberdeen Population Ecology Research Unit (APERU), School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK,
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  • JON AARS,

    1. NERC Molecular Genetics in Ecology Initiative, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK,
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  • JOHN F. DALLAS

    1. NERC Molecular Genetics in Ecology Initiative, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK,
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Dr Stuart Piertney; Fax: +44 1224 27236; E-mail: s.piertney@abdn.ac.uk

Abstract

The phylogeographic pattern of mitochondrial DNA variation in water voles (Arvicola terrestris) from 57 localities across the United Kingdom and representative samples from Spain, France, Switzerland and Finland was determined from sequence variation in the central portion of the control region. Twenty-seven different haplotypes were resolved which formed two distinct phylogenetic clades. This major division separated haplotypes found in Scotland from those found in England and Wales. Nested clade analysis of haplotypes indicated that such a division was a consequence of allopatric fragmentation. The haplotypes found in Switzerland, France and Spain clustered with Scottish haplotypes, whereas the haplotype from Finland clustered with the English/Welsh haplotypes. These patterns indicate that contemporary Scottish populations are derived from an Iberian glacial refugium, whereas English and Welsh populations are derived from an eastern European refugium. As such, the postglacial recolonization of the United Kingdom must have involved two colonization events, either in different localities with no subsequent contact, or as two waves separated over time, with the second wave of colonizers displacing the first. An analysis of molecular variance (amova) identified significant population genetic divergence within both the major clades, indicative of restricted gene flow and regional population isolation. The implications of both phylogeographical and population genetic structure are discussed in context with the conservation of water voles in Britain.

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