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Eastward Ho: phylogeographical perspectives on colonization of hosts and parasites across the Beringian nexus

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The response of Arctic organisms and their parasites to dramatic fluctuations in climate during the Pleistocene has direct implications for predicting the impact of current climate change in the North. An increasing number of phylogeographical studies in the Arctic have laid a framework for testing hypotheses concerning the impact of shifting environmental conditions on transcontinental movement. We review 35 phylogeographical studies of trans-Beringian terrestrial and freshwater taxa, both hosts and parasites, to identify generalized patterns regarding the number, direction and timing of trans-continental colonizations. We found that colonization across Beringia was primarily from Asia to North America, with many events occurring in the Quaternary period. The 35 molecular studies of trans-Beringian organisms we examined focused primarily on the role of glacial cycles and refugia in promoting diversification. We address the value of establishing testable hypotheses related to high-latitude biogeography. We then discuss future prospects in Beringia related to coalescent theory, palaeoecology, ancient DNA and synthetic studies of arctic host–parasite assemblages highlighting their cryptic diversity, biogeography and response to climate variation.
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Keywords: Arctic; Beringia; biogeography; host–parasite relationships; phylogenetics; phylogeography; refugia

Document Type: Guest Editorial

Affiliations: 1: US National Parasite Collection, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350, USA 2: Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de la Republica, Montevideo, Uruguay 3: Museum of Southwestern Biology & Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA

Publication date: 01 April 2007

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