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Beyond the Mediterranean peninsulas: evidence of central European glacial refugia for a temperate forest mammal species, the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus)

Authors

  • V. DEFFONTAINE,

    Corresponding author
    1. Unité de Recherches Zoogéographiques, Université de Liège, B22, 7000 Liège, Belgium,
    2. Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations (CBGP), UMR 1062, Campus international de Baillarguet, CS 30016, 34988 Montferrier/Lez (Montpellier), France,
      Valérie Deffontaine, Fax: 534 9962 3345; E-mail: vdeffontaine@ulg.ac.be
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  • R. LIBOIS,

    1. Unité de Recherches Zoogéographiques, Université de Liège, B22, 7000 Liège, Belgium,
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  • P. KOTLÍK,

    1. Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 277 21, Liběchov, Czech Republic,
    2. Department of Biology, University of York, PO Box 373, York YO10 5YW, UK,
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  • R. SOMMER,

    1. Institute for Biodiversity Research, General & Systematic Zoology, University of Rostock, Universitätsplatz 2, Rostock 18055, Germany,
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  • C. NIEBERDING,

    1. Unité de Recherches Zoogéographiques, Université de Liège, B22, 7000 Liège, Belgium,
    2. Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations (CBGP), UMR 1062, Campus international de Baillarguet, CS 30016, 34988 Montferrier/Lez (Montpellier), France,
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  • E. PARADIS,

    1. Laboratoire de Paléontologie, Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution (UMR 5554-CNRS), Université Montpellier II, Place E. Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier cedex 05, France
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  • J. B. SEARLE,

    1. Department of Biology, University of York, PO Box 373, York YO10 5YW, UK,
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  • J. R. MICHAUX

    1. Unité de Recherches Zoogéographiques, Université de Liège, B22, 7000 Liège, Belgium,
    2. Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations (CBGP), UMR 1062, Campus international de Baillarguet, CS 30016, 34988 Montferrier/Lez (Montpellier), France,
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Valérie Deffontaine, Fax: 534 9962 3345; E-mail: vdeffontaine@ulg.ac.be

Abstract

This study details the phylogeographic pattern of the bank vole, Clethrionomys glareolus, a European rodent species strongly associated with forest habitat. We used sequences of 1011 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene from 207 bank voles collected in 62 localities spread throughout its distribution area. Our results reveal the presence of three Mediterranean (Spanish, Italian and Balkan) and three continental (western, eastern and ‘Ural’) phylogroups. The endemic Mediterranean phylogroups did not contribute to the postglacial recolonization of much of the Palaearctic range of species. Instead, the major part of this region was apparently recolonized by bank voles that survived in glacial refugia in central Europe. Moreover, our phylogeographic analyses also reveal differentiated populations of bank voles in the Ural mountains and elsewhere, which carry the mitochondrial DNA of another related vole species, the ruddy vole (Clethrionomys rutilus). In conclusion, this study demonstrates a complex phylogeographic history for a forest species in Europe which is sufficiently adaptable that, facing climate change, survives in relict southern and northern habitats. The high level of genetic diversity characterizing vole populations from parts of central Europe also highlights the importance of such regions as a source of intraspecific genetic biodiversity.

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