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Mitochondrial phylogeography of moose (Alces alces): Late Pleistocene divergence and population expansion

March 1, 2002

We examined phylogeographic relationships of moose (Alces alces) worldwide to test the proposed existence of two geographic races and to infer the timing and extent of demographic processes underpinning the expansion of this species across the Northern Hemisphere in the late Pleistocene. Sequence variation within the left hypervariable domain of the control region occurred at low or moderate levels worldwide and was structured geographically. Partitioning of genetic variance among regions indicated that isolation by distance was the primary agent for differentiation of moose populations but does not support the existence of distinct eastern and western races. Levels of genetic variation and structure of phylogenetic trees identify Asia as the origin of all extant mitochondrial lineages. A recent coalescence is indicated, with the most recent common ancestor dating to the last ice age. Moose have undergone two episodes of population expansion, likely corresponding to the final interstade of the most recent ice age and the onset of the current interglacial. Timing of expansion for the population in the Yakutia–Manchuria region of eastern Asia indicates that it is one of the oldest populations of moose and may represent the source of founders of extant populations in North America, which were colonized within the last 15,000 years. Our data suggest an extended period of low population size or a severe bottleneck prior to the divergence and expansion of extant lineages and a recent, less-severe bottleneck among European lineages. Climate change during the last ice age, acting through contraction and expansion of moose habitat and the flooding of the Bering land bridge, undoubtedly was a key factor influencing the divergence and expansion of moose populations.

Publication Year 2002
Title Mitochondrial phylogeography of moose (Alces alces): Late Pleistocene divergence and population expansion
DOI 10.1006/mpev.2001.1058
Authors Kris J. Hundertmark, Gerald F. Shields, Irina G. Udina, R. Terry Bowyer, Alexei A. Danilkin, Charles C. Schwartz
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Index ID 70159760
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center