Phylogeographical structure in the subterranean tuco-tuco Ctenomys talarum (Rodentia: Ctenomyidae): contrasting the demographic consequences of regional and habitat-specific histories

Authors

  • MATÍAS S. MORA,

    1. Laboratorio de Ecofisiología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. CC1 245, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina,
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  • ENRIQUE P. LESSA,

    1. Laboratorio de Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la República, Montevideo 11400, Uruguay
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  • ANA P. CUTRERA,

    1. Laboratorio de Ecofisiología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. CC1 245, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina,
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  • MARCELO J. KITTLEIN,

    1. Laboratorio de Ecofisiología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. CC1 245, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina,
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  • ALDO I. VASSALLO

    1. Laboratorio de Ecofisiología, Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata. CC1 245, 7600 Mar del Plata, Argentina,
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Matías Sebastián Mora, Fax: +54 223 4753150; E-mail: msmora@mdp.edu.ar

Abstract

In this work we examined the phylogeography of the South American subterranean herbivorous rodent Ctenomys talarum (Talas tuco-tuco) using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region (D-loop) sequences, and we assessed the geographical genetic structure of this species in comparison with that of subterranean Ctenomys australis, which we have shown previously to be parapatric to C. talarum and to also live in a coastal sand dune habitat. A significant apportionment of the genetic variance among regional groups indicated that putative geographical barriers, such as rivers, substantially affected the pattern of genetic structure in C. talarum. Furthermore, genetic differentiation is consistent with a simple model of isolation by distance, possibly evidencing equilibrium between gene flow and local genetic drift. In contrast, C. australis showed limited hierarchical partitioning of genetic variation and departed from an isolation-by-distance pattern. Mismatch distributions and tests of neutrality suggest contrasting histories of these two species: C. talarum appears to be characterized by demographic stability and no significant departures from neutrality, whereas C. australis has undergone a recent demographic expansion and/or departures from strict neutrality in its mtDNA.

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