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Keywords:

  • assignment test;
  • cytochrome b;
  • glaciation;
  • microsatellites;
  • North America;
  • phylogeography;
  • population genetics;
  • reptile;
  • simulations

Abstract

Contemporary geographical range and patterns of genetic diversity within species reflect complex interactions between multiple factors acting across spatial and temporal scales, and it is notoriously difficult to disentangle causation. Here, we quantify patterns of genetic diversity and genetic population structure using mitochondrial DNA sequences (101 individuals, cytochrome b) and microsatellites (816 individuals, 12 loci) and use Approximate Bayesian computation methods to test competing models of the demographic history of eastern and western foxsnakes. Our analyses indicate that post-glacial colonization and past population declines, probably caused by the infilling of deciduous forest and cooler temperatures since the mid-Holocene, largely underpin large-scale genetic patterns for foxsnakes. At finer geographical scales, our results point to more recent anthropogenic habitat loss as having accentuated genetic population structure by causing further declines and fragmentation.