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The roles of rivers and Pleistocene refugia in shaping genetic diversity in Praomys misonnei in tropical Africa

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Abstract Aim 

This study aims to elucidate the phylogeography of the murid rodent Praomys misonnei and to document whether or not rain forest refugia and rivers structure patterns of diversity within this species. Location 

Tropical Africa, from Ghana to Kenya. Methods 

Patterns of genetic structure and signatures of population history (cytochrome b gene) were assessed in a survey of 229 individuals from 54 localities. Using maximum likelihood, Bayesian, network and genetic structure analyses, we inferred intra-specific relationships and tested hypotheses for historical patterns of gene flow within P. misonnei. Results 

Our phylogenetic analyses reveal a strong phylogeographical structure. We identified four major geographical clades within P. misonnei: one clade in Ghana and Benin, a Nigerian clade, a West Central African clade and a Central and East African clade. Several subclades were identified within these four major clades. A signal of population expansion was detected in most clades or subclades. Coalescence within all of the major clades of P. misonnei occurred during the Middle Pleistocene and/or the beginning of Late Pleistocene. Main conclusions 

Our results suggest a role for both Pleistocene refugia and rivers in structuring genetic diversity in P. misonnei. This forest-dwelling rodent may have been isolated in a number of forest fragments during arid periods and expanded its range during wetter periods. Potential forest refugia may have been localized in Benin–Ghana, south-western Cameroon, southern Gabon, northern Gabon and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo–western Uganda. The Niger and/or the Cross Rivers, the Oubangui-Congo, Sanaga, Ogooue and/or Ivindo Rivers probably stopped the re-expansion of the species from relict areas.
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Keywords: Africa; Muridae; Pleistocene forest refugia; Praomys; cytochrome b; diversification; forest; mitochondrial DNA; phylogeography; riverine barrier hypothesis

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Département de Systématique et Evolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, UMR 7205, Laboratoire Mammifères et Oiseaux, 57 Rue Cuvier, CP 51, 75005 Paris, France 2: Roosevelt University and the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL 60605, USA 3: University of Kisangani, Animal Ecology and Resource Management Laboratory (LEGERA), Av. Kitima N°1, BP 2012, Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo 4: Genoscope, Centre National de Sequençage, 2, rue Gaston Crémieux, CP5706, 91057 Evry Cedex, France 5: UMR CNRS 6553 Ecobio, Université de Rennes 1, Station Biologique, 35380 Paimpont, France

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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