Species-wide phylogeography of North American mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus): cryptic glacial refugia and postglacial recolonization


Emily K. Latch, Fax: 414-229-6329; E-mail: latch@uwm.edu


Quaternary climatic oscillations greatly influenced the present-day population genetic structure of animals and plants. For species with high dispersal and reproductive potential, phylogeographic patterns resulting from historical processes can be cryptic, overshadowed by contemporary processes. Here we report a study of the phylogeography of Odocoileus hemionus, a large, vagile ungulate common throughout western North America. We examined sequence variation of mitochondrial DNA (control region and cytochrome b) within and among 70 natural populations across the entire range of the species. Among the 1766 individual animals surveyed, we recovered 496 haplotypes. Although fine-scale phylogenetic structure was weakly resolved using phylogenetic methods, network analysis clearly revealed the presence of 12 distinct haplogroups. The spatial distribution of haplogroups showed a strong genetic discontinuity between the two morphological types of O. hemionus, mule deer and black-tailed deer, east and west of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Within the mule deer lineage, we identified several haplogroups that expanded before or during the Last Glacial Maximum, suggesting that mule deer persisted in multiple refugia south of the ice sheets. Patterns of genetic diversity within the black-tailed deer lineage suggest a single refugium along the Pacific Northwest coast, and refute the hypothesis that black-tailed deer persisted in one or more northern refugia. Our data suggest that black-tailed deer recolonized areas in accordance with the pattern of glacial retreat, with initial recolonization northward along a coastal route and secondary recolonization inland.