These authors equally contributed to the paper.
The integration of multiple independent data reveals an unusual response to Pleistocene climatic changes in the hard tick Ixodes ricinus
Article first published online: 11 FEB 2013
© 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 22, Issue 6, pages 1666–1682, March 2013
How to Cite
Porretta, D., Mastrantonio, V., Mona, S., Epis, S., Montagna, M., Sassera, D., Bandi, C. and Urbanelli, S. (2013), The integration of multiple independent data reveals an unusual response to Pleistocene climatic changes in the hard tick Ixodes ricinus. Molecular Ecology, 22: 1666–1682. doi: 10.1111/mec.12203
- Issue published online: 11 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 11 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 29 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Received: 2 AUG 2012
- ice ages;
- species distribution modelling;
- Western Palaearctic
In the last few years, improved analytical tools and the integration of genetic data with multiple sources of information have shown that temperate species exhibited more complex responses to ice ages than previously thought. In this study, we investigated how Pleistocene climatic changes affected the current distribution and genetic diversity of European populations of the tick Ixodes ricinus, an ectoparasite with high ecological plasticity. We first used mitochondrial and nuclear genetic markers to investigate the phylogeographic structure of the species and its Pleistocene history using coalescent-based methods; then we used species distribution modelling to infer the climatic niche of the species at last glacial maximum; finally, we reviewed the literature on the I. ricinus hosts to identify the locations of their glacial refugia. Our results support the scenario that during the last glacial phase, I. ricinus never experienced a prolonged allopatric divergence in separate glacial refugia, but persisted with interconnected populations across Southern and Central Europe. The generalist behaviour in host choice of I. ricinus would have played a major role in maintaining connections between its populations. Although most of the hosts persisted in separate refugia, from the point of view of I. ricinus, they represented a continuity of ‘bridges’ among populations. Our study highlights the importance of species-specific ecology in affecting responses to Pleistocene glacial–interglacial cycles. Together with other cases in Europe and elsewhere, it contributes to setting new hypotheses on how species with wide ecological plasticity coped with Pleistocene climatic changes.