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Molecular genetic evidence for the post-Pleistocene divergence of populations of the arctic-alpine ground beetle Amara alpina (Paykull) (Coleoptera: Carabidae)

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Aim This study examines the hypothesis that the biogeographic history of a species is reflected in the distribution of molecular genetic diversity and the phylogenies of extant populations.

Location Populations of arctic-alpine ground beetle Amara alpina were analysed from Beringia (Alaska and northernmost British Columbia), the Hudson Bay region, the northern Appalachian Mountains, and the central Rocky Mountains of North America.

Methods Mitochondrial restriction site variation of specimens from twenty-two populations were assayed by using radioactively labelled mtDNA to probe Southern membranes containing restriction enzyme digested total DNA. Restriction sites were mapped and genetic distances were calculated by pairwise comparison of presence and absence of restriction sites. Genetic distances were used in a molecular analysis of variance and to construct a minimal spanning tree. Parsimony methods were used to investigate the phylogenetic relationships between the haplotypes. These results were compared to an existing model for postglacial dispersal based on fossil and modern occurrences of arctic-alpine beetles.

Results Among the twenty-two populations, fifteen haplotypes were detected. Genetic variation within each of the four regions corresponded to that expected from the palaeontologically based model. Beringian populations were the most genetically diverse. In contrast, no restriction site variation was observed in populations from the Hudson Bay region. Intermediate amounts of variation were observed in alpine populations of the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. Maximum parsimony and cluster analysis provide evidence that at least two ancestral haplotypes existed in the Southern refugium from which the Rocky and the Appalachian Mountains populations were founded.

Main conclusions The genetic results are generally consistent with the palaeontologically based model. The diversity of Beringian populations is consistent with this region having been continuously inhabited by Amara alpina throughout the Pleistocene. The Hudson Bay region was not deglaciated until about 6000 years, and its populations have no restriction site variation. The molecular genetic data support the interpretation that the Hudson Bay region was colonized from Beringia based on the occurrence of the same haplotype in both regions.
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Keywords: Carabidae; Coleoptera; Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); Pleistocene; restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs)

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Biology, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM 87801 U.S.A. 2: 2Department of Geosciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105–5517, U.S.A.

Publication date: 1999-07-01

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