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Ancient DNA evidence for the loss of a highly divergent brown bear clade during historical times

Authors

  • SEBASTIEN CALVIGNAC,

    1. Institute de Génomique Fonctionnelle de Lyon, UMR 5242 CNRS/INRA/Université Claude Bernard LyonI/ENS, IFR128 BioSciences Lyon-Gerland Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, 46 Allée d’Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France,
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  • SANDRINE HUGHES,

    1. Institute de Génomique Fonctionnelle de Lyon, UMR 5242 CNRS/INRA/Université Claude Bernard LyonI/ENS, IFR128 BioSciences Lyon-Gerland Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, 46 Allée d’Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France,
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  • CHRISTELLE TOUGARD,

    1. CNRS UMR 5561, Biogéosciences, Université de Bourgogne, Centre des Sciences de la Terre, 6, boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France,
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  • JACQUES MICHAUX,

    1. Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution, CNRS UMR 5554 — Université Montpellier II and Laboratoire EPHE de Paléontologie des Vertébrés, place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier cedex 5, France,
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  • MICHEL THEVENOT,

    1. Laboratoire EPHE de Biogéographie et Ecologie des Vertébrés, Université Montpellier II, place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier cedex 5, France,
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  • MICHEL PHILIPPE,

    1. CCEC, Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, 13A, rue Bancel, 69007 Lyon, France,
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  • WATIK HAMDINE,

    1. Fédération des Pourvoieries du Québec, 5237, boulevard Hamel, bureau 270, Québec, Canada G2E 2H2
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  • CATHERINE HÄNNI

    1. Institute de Génomique Fonctionnelle de Lyon, UMR 5242 CNRS/INRA/Université Claude Bernard LyonI/ENS, IFR128 BioSciences Lyon-Gerland Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, 46 Allée d’Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France,
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Catherine Hänni, Institute de Génomique Fonctionnelle de Lyon, UMR 5242 CNRS/INRA/Université Claude Bernard LyonI/ENS, IFR128 BioSciences Lyon-Gerland Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, 46 Allée d’Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France. Fax: 33 4 72 72 80 80; E-mail: catherine.hanni@ens-lyon.fr

Abstract

The genetic diversity of present-day brown bears (Ursus arctos) has been extensively studied over the years and appears to be geographically structured into five main clades. The question of the past diversity of the species has been recently addressed by ancient DNA studies that concluded to a relative genetic stability over the last 35 000 years. However, the post-last glacial maximum genetic diversity of the species still remains poorly documented, notably in the Old World. Here, we analyse Atlas brown bears, which became extinct during the Holocene period. A divergent brown bear mitochondrial DNA lineage not present in any of the previously studied modern or ancient bear samples was uncovered, suggesting that the diversity of U. arctos was larger in the past than it is now. Specifically, a significant portion (with respect to sequence divergence) of the intraspecific diversity of the brown bear was lost with the extinction of the Atlas brown bear after the Pleistocene/Holocene transition.

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