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Genetic variation of the Siberian tit Parus cinctus populations at the regional level: a mitochondrial sequence analysis

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We studied the matrilinear genetic structure of the Siberian tit Parus cinctus by sequencing 911 bp of the mitochondrial control region of 56 birds from Fennoscandia and 3 from Yakutia, central Siberia, representing subspecies P. c. lapponicus and P. c. cinctus, respectively. One major haplotype comprised 35.7% of all birds and was present in all Fennoscandian populations. Sequence variation of 5 museum specimens from Norway fitted with the pattern of the present-day birds. The nucleotide diversity was 0.00205±0.00025 in the Fennoscandian population and no population structuring was detected. The star-like phylogeny suggests a recent expansion of the population size in the evolutionary time scale. A modern decline of the population size from 200 000 pairs to 50 000 pairs in Finland has resulted from cutting and fragmentation of old-growth forests, but the effects of this could not yet be detected in the mtDNA pattern. However, the nucleotide diversity differed among populations being the highest at Kuusamo, close to the Russian border. Conceivably, the gene flow maintained by the substantial migration of Siberian tits is sufficient to prevent differentiation of local populations in Fennoscandia. Presumably the large conservation areas in NE Finland and on the Russian side of the border contribute to the high genetic variation observed in the Kuusamo population. Comparison of the mtDNA phylogeny of the Siberian tit with the phylogenies of the great tit, the blue tit and the willow tit showed that the Siberian tit and some other non-migratory species of the foliage gleaning guild share similar post glacial histories in the western palaearctic.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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