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A Test of the Glacial Refugium Hypothesis using Patterns of Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA Sequence Variation in Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)

K. Holder, R. Montgomerie and V. L. Friesen
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 6 (Dec., 1999), pp. 1936-1950
DOI: 10.2307/2640452
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640452
Page Count: 15
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
A Test of the Glacial Refugium Hypothesis using Patterns of Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA Sequence Variation in Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)
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Abstract

The glacial refugium hypothesis (GRH) proposes that glaciers promoted differentiation and generation of intraspecific diversity by isolating populations in ice-free refugia. We tested three predictions of this hypothesis for the evolutionary divergence of rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) during the Wisconsin glaciation of the late Pleistocene. To do this, we examined subspecies distributions, population genetic structure, and phylogenetic relationships in 26 populations across North America and the Bering Sea region. First, we analyzed sequence variation in the mitochondrial control region, in a nuclear intron (Gapdh), and in an internal transcribed spacer (ITS1). Control region sequences of 154 rock ptarmigan revealed strong population and phylogeographic structure. Variation in intron sequences of 114 rock ptarmigan also revealed significant population structure compatible with results for the control region. Rock ptarmigan were invariant for ITS1. Second, we show that five known Nearctic refugia and an Icelandic refugium are concordant with the current distribution of morphologically distinct subspecies; five of these six refugia are geographically concordant with the distribution of closely related control region haplotypes. Third, our estimates of the time since phylogenetic lineages diverged predated the last glacial maximum for all but two lineages. In addition, all lines of evidence suggest that two unknown refugia in the Bering Sea region supported rock ptarmigan during the Wisconsin glaciation. Overall, our results are most consistent with the hypothesis that isolated populations of rock ptarmigan diverged in multiple refugia during the Wisconsin and that geographic variation reflects patterns of recolonization of the Nearctic after the ice receded. The GRH may therefore offer the most plausible explanation for similar biogeographic patterns in a variety of Nearctic vertebrates.

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