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Isolation and introgression in the Intermountain West: contrasting gene genealogies reveal the complex biogeographic history of the American pika (Ochotona princeps)

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Abstract Aim 

We studied the history of colonization, diversification and introgression among major phylogroups in the American pika, Ochotona princeps (Lagomorpha), using comparative and statistical phylogeographic methods. Our goal was to understand how Pleistocene climatic fluctuations have shaped the distribution of diversity at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA) loci in this alpine specialist. Location 

North America’s Intermountain West. Methods 

We accumulated mtDNA sequence data (c. 560–1700 bp) from 232 pikas representing 64 localities, and sequenced two nuclear introns (mast cell growth factor, c. 550 bp, n =148; protein kinase C iota, c. 660 bp, n =139) from a subset of individuals. To determine the distribution of major mtDNA lineages, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis on the mtDNA sequence data, and we calculated divergence times among the lineages using a Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo approach. Relationships among nuclear alleles were explored with minimum spanning networks. Finally, we conducted coalescent simulations of alternative models of population history to test for congruence between nDNA and mtDNA responses to Pleistocene glacial cycles. Results 

We found that: (1) all individuals could be assigned to one of five allopatric mtDNA lineages; (2) lineages are associated with separate mountain provinces; (3) lineages originated from at least two rounds of differentiation; (4) nDNA and mtDNA markers exhibited overall phylogeographic congruence; and (5) introgression among phylogroups has occurred at nuclear loci since their initial isolation. Main conclusions 

Pika populations associated with different mountain systems have followed separate but not completely independent evolutionary trajectories through multiple glacial cycles. Range expansion associated with climate cooling (i.e. glaciations) promoted genetic admixture among populations within mountain ranges. It also permitted periodic contact and introgression between phylogroups associated with different mountain systems, the record of which is retained at nDNA but not mtDNA loci. Evidence for different histories at nuclear and mtDNA loci (i.e. periodic introgression versus deep isolation, respectively) emphasizes the importance of multilocus perspectives for reconstructing complete population histories.
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Keywords: Alpine; Lagomorpha; Ochotona princeps; Pleistocene; Rocky Mountains; Sierra Nevada; coalescent simulation; glaciation; statistical phylogeography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA 2: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA 3: University and Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley, 1001 Valley Life Sciences Building #2465, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA

Publication date: 2010-02-01

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