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Mitochondrial DNA reveals hidden diversity and an ancestral lineage of the bank vole in the Italian peninsula

Authors

  • P. Colangelo,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Forest Service – National Centre for the Study of Forest Biodiversity “Bosco Fontana”, Verona, Italy
    • Department of Biology and Biotechnologies ‘Charles Darwin’, Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Italy
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  • G. Aloise,

    1. Museo di Storia Naturale della Calabria e Orto Botanico, University of Calabria, Rende, Italy
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  • P. Franchini,

    1. Department of Biology and Biotechnologies ‘Charles Darwin’, Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Italy
    2. Lehrstuhl für Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Department of Biology, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
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  • F. Annesi,

    1. Department of Biology and Biotechnologies ‘Charles Darwin’, Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Italy
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  • G. Amori

    1. Institute of Ecosystem Study, National Research Council, Roma, Italy
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Correspondence

Paolo Colangelo, Department of Biology and Biotechnologies ‘Charles Darwin’, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Borelli 50, 00161 Roma, Italy. Tel: +39 06 49918122; Fax: +39 06 4457516

Email: paolo.colangelo@uniroma1.it

Abstract

The Italian Peninsula was one of the main refugia in southern Europe during the climatic oscillations of the Pleistocene, and was considered a ‘hotspot’ of biodiversity. A number of phylogeographic analyses identified highly divergent lineages in Italy that apparently did not contribute to the post-glacial re-colonization of Europe, supporting the existence of refugia within refugia in the southern-most part of Italy. For the bank vole Myodes glareolus, genetic analyses highlighted a low variability for this species on the Italian peninsula, suggesting that cryptic refugia of central Europe were the main source of postglacial re-colonization in Europe.

In this work, we analysed the mtDNA phylogeography of M. glareolus with a special emphasis on the Italian refugium. We extended previous analyses by including new sequences from a wider range of samples across the Italian peninsula. Our results suggest a high mitochondrial diversity of the bank vole in Italy and support the existence of an ancient and deeply divergent population in the Calabria region. This population did not participate to the recent re-colonization of Italy while we highlight the possible occurrence of multiple and more recent colonization events between Europe and Italy. The phylogeographic pattern observed in Italy appears compatible with refugia-within-refugia scenario.

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