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Keywords:

  • evolutionary community;
  • Peromyscus;
  • phylogeography;
  • Quaternary;
  • Tamias

Abstract

Palaeoecological studies have demonstrated that ecological communities as a whole did not remain stable throughout the climatic fluctuations of the Quaternary. The result is that long-term associations of species cannot be inferred by contemporary associations in ecological communities. Therefore, the evolutionary significance of any contemporary ecological interactions among species and of the biotic community within which species have evolved also cannot be assumed from contemporary conditions. Comparative phylogeographic data provide a method to identify species within ecological communities that have shared biogeographic histories. We present an example of a long-term association between populations of two mammalian species, eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus) and white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus), which are commonly associated with deciduous forest habitats. The distribution of mitochondrial DNA variation in T. striatus and P. leucopus from previously glaciated regions of the eastern United States support the hypothesis that, in at least part of their range, genetic lineages of the two species have expanded from similar population sources since the Last Glacial Maximum. In addition, the spatial concordance of genetic lineages of T. striatus and P. leucopus with the oak-savannah forest formations of Wisconsin and Illinois, suggest that populations associated with this community colonized the area in association with a set of arboreal species that comprise their deciduous forest habitat.